The L.A. County Sheriff’s Race is a Total Nail-Biter

335 votes is all that separated Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell from his challenger as of Monday morning. But by Tuesday, that number had grown to just over 22,000, with Lt. Alex Villanueva in the lead.

There are still hundreds of thousands of ballots to be counted and it’s anyone’s guess what’s lurking in them. But one thing is certain: this race has turned into a complete nail-biter — the likes of which very few expected.

That Villanueva is leading at all is a shock for for L.A. County, which hasn’t unseated an incumbent sheriff in more than 100 years. Villanueva’s performance has stunned L.A. County’s political world.

“I have egg on my face. I have an entire omelet on my face,” Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson told the Los Angeles Times. “The voters sent a really clear message. They need faster and different change, and they think the Sheriff’s Department needs an overhaul that hasn’t happened yet. On the other hand, this was a low-information race, so I still have to wonder how much this has to do with confusion on the ballot.”