The Fresno Police Officers Association this week endorsed Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp in her run against incumbent Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan.
It’s an endorsement that splits the two most high profile local law enforcement unions. The Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association earlier gave its backing to Egan.
Taken together, the endorsements are yet another indication that the race next year will be hard fought and highly competitive. If nobody else enters the race, it will be decided in the June 3 primary election.
This is Egan’s first competitive reelection bid. She ran unopposed twice — in 2006 and 2010 — following her initial 2002 victory.
“For our guys it was an easy choice,” FPOA President Jacky Parks said of backing Smittcamp, a former deputy district attorney who worked under Egan until she resigned in August.
Egan responded to the FPOA’s Smittcamp announcement by putting out four more endorsements of her reelection campaign — the Fresno Sheriff’s Correctional Sergeant Association, Citizens for Law and Order, Crime Victims Action Alliance and Firebaugh Police Chief Elsa Lopez.
When Smittcamp first told The Bee in late October that she was running against her former boss, Egan did the same thing, announcing the deputy sheriff’s endorsement as well as the backing of Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and former sheriffs Richard Pierce and Steve Magarian.
At that time, Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Eric Schmidt sounded much like Parks did on Friday, saying Egan won the group’s endorsement hands down.
The big difference was that while the Fresno police union interviewed both candidates, the sheriff’s association didn’t even talk to Smittcamp. Schmidt said the union was satisfied after it interviewed Egan.
Parks said the FPOA’s political action committee made the initial recommendation. It could have endorsed either candidate or stayed neutral, he said.
The PAC, he said, “overwhelmingly” backed Smittcamp, and the FPOA’s full board followed suit.
Parks said Smittcamp had worked with FPOA members on training and mentoring, was well liked by Fresno police detectives and was efficient. All of that, he said, “resonated well with our troops.”
The FPOA had talked to both candidates and had them fill out questionnaires. One question, for instance, asked their political affiliation. Another asked if there was “anything in your background that may become public information during the campaign that is considered unlawful, unethical, or that would negatively impact the FPOA’s reputation.”