San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon picked up the endorsement of almost all of the chiefs of police in the county along with fellow sheriffs in nearby counties. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Mono County Ralph Obenburger, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean and Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown all endorse McMahon.
At more than $141,000, McMahon’s campaign war chest is about fourteen times as large as his nearest competition, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Schrader. McMahon has the support of his own department and the community at large.
But his rise to the top has not been without controversy. In 2012, after the retirement of former Sheriff Rod Hoops, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors appointed McMahon to complete the term.
The Charter of the County of San Bernardino, which is the “constitution” for the county, does not make provision for a special election to be called when a county officer leaves office. The Constitution of the State of California specifically recognizes county charters as the controlling law and requires that an elected officer be appointed when a vacancy occurs absent specific remedies spelled out in a county charter.
Schrader, who is running his campaign as a “Constitutional Sheriff,” meaning that upholding the Constitution would be his priority when making decisions, has taken exception to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors’ decision to follow the constitution when selecting the interim sheriff. He and his supporters have taken to social media to run an obnoxious campaign against McMahon, including insinuations that McMahon will be arrested and criminally charged for a variety of sketchy violations.
Schrader’s financial support and campaign volunteers come in part from what is known as the “Sovereign Citizens” movement, a group deemed to be domestic terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Sovereigns” promote a belief in the United States Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, which gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms and form a militia. But many do not believe in other amendments, such as those that allow taxation. They also do not believe they need a state driver’s license and are exempt from following the law.
One group of Sovereigns is known as “Posse Comitatus.” That group was responsible for the murder of two U.S. Marshals a number of years ago.
The Primary Election will take place on June 3. If none of the candidates received 50 percent plus one vote, a runoff will be held during the General Election in November.