Late Friday the Fresno County Prosecutors Association announced it is endorsing Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, who is challenging District Attorney Elizabeth Egan in the June primary.
A news release issued by Smittcamp's campaign said association members -- consisting of deputy district attorneys, which Smittcamp formerly was -- began voting Thursday on whether to make an endorsement, and if so, who to support.
The voting concluded late Friday afternoon. The Bee sought comment from the head of the association, Galen Rutiaga, but he would only say "the endorsement speaks for itself."
Local political observers had been expecting the association to remain on the sidelines during the campaign. Smittcamp was nearly giddy, therefore, to receive the endorsement.
"I am thankful and overjoyed by the support of my fellow prosecutors," she said.
Egan campaign consultant Dave Gilliard saw some self-interest in the prosecutors' act.
"In a recent debate," he said, "Lisa Smittcamp said her highest priority if she received more funds as D.A. would be to give her lawyers a pay raise. In light of that promise, it should come as no surprise that they endorsed Smittcamp."
Gilliard said the association also backed Egan's opponent in her first campaign for the office, "and it had zero impact on the voters. I expect the same this time."
The race is the hottest of all the local campaigns being waged this spring. Egan's two previous races were tame compared to the battle she is waging with Smittcamp.
Visit fresnobee.com throughout the day for breaking news and updates.