SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer appeared today to have unseated his former boss, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, ending a particularly bitter campaign.
With all precincts reporting, Spitzer had nearly 53 percent of the vote, compared to 47 percent for the incumbent. It was unclear how many provisional, mail or questioned ballots remained to be counted, but as of early Wednesday, Spitzer had a roughly 30,000-vote lead.
Spitzer was once considered next in line to succeed Rackauckas, who was grooming him to take over until the two had a public falling out in 2010 when Rackauckas fired him.
The two have traded allegations of corruption and ethical lapses ever since.
Rackauckas, who was elected in 1998, is serving his fourth term. He has been rocked by allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in recent years, most notably in the case against Scott Dekraai, the worst mass killer in the county's history.
Rackauckas' office was booted off the prosecution of Dekraai when a judge found outrageous governmental misconduct in the handling of jailhouse informants in Dekraai's case. Dekraai, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when an Orange County Superior Court judge removed the death sentence as an option due to continued allegations of misuse of jailhouse snitches.
Now Rackauckas' office is fighting another legal battle involving allegations of misconduct in the prosecution of Josh Waring, the son of a former “Real Housewives of Orange County,” who is charged with attempted murder. An Orange County sheriff's contractor has acknowledged in the Waring case that a glitch in an upgrade of software led authorities to improperly record phone calls of jail inmates to their attorneys.
Rackauckas defended his work as D.A., highlighting what he calls aggressive efforts by his office to crack down on gang members and human traffickers and pioneering advancements in the use of DNA evidence in criminal prosecutions.
Spitzer touted his career in public service, serving not just as a county supervisor and a prosecutor, but also spending time in the state Assembly and as a school teacher and school board member. He said he wants to restore “faith and trust in our law enforcement and justice system.”
Photo: Getty Images