Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey was preparing Tuesday night for a November runoff election in the race to become the next district attorney, but it was too close to determine if her challenger will be Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson or City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
Lacey was one of five current prosecutors running to replace her boss, retiring District Attorney Steve Cooley, but she was the only one with Cooley's endorsement. Trutanich had more than $1.1 million to fund his campaign, the strongest name recognition of all the candidates and a number of important endorsements, but was running neck-and-neck with Jackson.
A count of roughly 44 percent of total ballots cast showed Lacey with 31.2 percent of the vote, followed by Jackson with 23.7 percent and Trutanich with 22.8 percent.
Lacey, a Los Angeles native and graduate of USC Law School, has worked for the D.A.'s office since 1986. She has prosecuted thousands of crimes and tried about 60 felony cases to jury verdicts, including 11 homicides and the county's first trial of a race-motivated hate crime, according to her campaign. She has emphasized her management skills and low-key temperament as key to leading the District Attorney's Office.
Lacey also said she has overseen crime-fighting initiatives focused on preventing animal cruelty, prosecuting graffiti and assigning gun cases to jurisdictions likely to obtain maximum criminal penalties. She has the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Bernard Parks, a co- endorsement (with Alan Jackson) by the Daily News and the support of several other news outlets.
Trutanich was endorsed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sheriff Lee Baca, six Los Angeles city councilmen and most of the largest labor unions in the region, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Former Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal made robo-calls on his behalf.
But he was also fighting negative press for his broken 2008 campaign promise to serve out his full term as city attorney before seeking further office.
Trutanich was elected city attorney in 2008 and said he has fought gangs and worked to confiscate guns while saving taxpayer dollars. The city attorney's office has won 82 of 89 trials during his tenure and cut outside legal fees by 70 percent, according to his campaign website.
Trutanich grew up in the South Bay and earned an MBA from USC before pursuing a law degree from the South Bay University College of Law. He worked in the district attorney's gang unit and later focused on environmental litigation, eventually starting a private practice.
Jackson may be best known for his murder prosecution of music producer Phil Spector in 2009 and his appearances as a legal analyst on shows such as NBC Dateline's "Unsolved Case Squad." Raised in Texas, Jackson served in the Air Force and then went on to the University of Texas and Pepperdine University School of Law. He has worked for the D.A.'s office for 17 years and is the assistant head deputy of the office's Major Crimes Division.
Jackson led prosecutions of nearly 70 felonies, nearly half of which were homicides, including the killings of racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife. In interviews, Jackson has said he would seek to repeal AB109 -- the state's move to reassign responsibility for low-level offenders to counties -- and allow counties to contract with out-of-state correctional facilities. He has the endorsements of County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and several police unions.
The Peace Officers Research Association, the state's largest law enforcement group, endorsed both Jackson and Lacey. The Daily News co- endorsement of Lacey and Jackson offered the opinion that the winner should be "anyone but Carmen (Trutanich)."
Trutanich told supporters tonight he was still confident of pulling ahead. And while he was proud of what he called a very clean campaign, Trutanich said he looked forward to taking a tougher stance in November.
"I'm from Pedro," he told ABC7, offering his hometown of San Pedro as evidence of his credibility as a street fighter.
Lacey also anticipated a hard fight to the finish, telling KCAL9 she thought there would be "blood on the floor" before the race was over.