Politics can make for strange bedfellows, but there was something surreal about last week’s re-election kickoff party for Sheriff Laurie Smith—and it wasn’t the angry group shouting outside of La Piñata restaurant in downtown San Jose. Amidst the chicken quesadillas and margarita chasers, conservatives and laboristas came together to sing Kumbaya in support of the Republican law(wo)man. Not far from SJ Councilman Johnny Khamis and county taxman Larry Stone, county supervisors Cindy Chavez and Ken Yeager stood by Smith’s side. While the pairing of political disparates is being sold as Smith’s ability to cross party lines, the truth appears to be a mix of common animosities and payback. Smith supported Chavez in last year’s special election against Teresa Alvarado, who, ironically, is a Democrat but was derided as a GOP darling by Chavez’ handlers. It could be argued that the alliance is related to supervisors controlling the sheriff’s budget, but the real reason Smith got on the labor bandwagon is because political consultant Victor Ajlouny, also a Republican, was running an independent committee opposing Chavez. Despite their shared political affiliation, Smith and Ajlouny may as well be mortal enemies going back to past elections. Also, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, the labor group opposing Smith and supporting Kevin Jensen,
is working with Ajlouny for the upcoming election pushed back against Jensen working with Ajlouny. Despite previously heading the South Bay Labor Council, this isn’t the first time Chavez has backed an ideologically incompatible candidate. In 2010 she endorsed incumbent District Attorney Dolores Carr, a GOPer, over Democratic candidate and current DA Jeff Rosen. Perhaps Chavez was concerned that Rosen would be more aggressive in pursuing misconduct by officeholders. Carr had dropped the case against ex-Mayor Ron Gonzales and had shown little interest in opening any others.
CLARIFICATION: Victor Ajlouny and Kevin Jensen had conversations late last year about the consultant working on the sheriff’s race, but those talks never materialized.