07/19/2011 02:32 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2011

Chris Cunnie Enters Sheriff's Race

There are now three major candidates in the running to become San Francisco's next sheriff. In addition to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Sheriff's Captain Paul Miyamoto, Chris Cunnie has now thrown his hat into the ring.

Cunnie, who at 57 has had a long and distinguished career in Bay Area law enforcement, was joined by a gaggle of high-profile backers at his campaign kickoff on Monday. Standing at Cunnie's side were state Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner.

Cunnie told the Fog City Journal he has also lined up the endorsements of Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the firefighters union.

"We're entering a new landscape, a new critical time in criminal justice in San Francisco," said Cunnie. "We know that the United States Supreme Court just confirmed what we've known for a long time--that California's prison system is broken...What this means is that that problem is going to come right here to our doorstep. This is a time for public safety, community and for the non-profits to come together like we've never done before."

SF Appeal reports:

Cunnie, who has been working as an advisor to Harris, served as San Francisco's undersheriff until earlier this year, and also has served as the chief of investigations for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office under Harris when she was the district attorney.

He also has served as president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association and as director of emergency communication for former Mayor Gavin Newsom.

There has long been speculation that Cunnie had his eye on becoming San Francisco's next sheriff; however, much of that speculation was tramped down after Cunnie resigned from the Sheriff's Department and took a job as Harriss's advisor.

A few days ago, the Bay Guardian's Tim Redmond noted that he had recently heard murmurs about Cunnie's interest in running. "I haven't been able to reach Cunnie directly," wrote Redmond, "but he's been calling around to local political types and talking about the race, and several people close to him say he's about ready to make the jump."

Mirkarimi, who received the endorsement of retiring Sheriff Mike Hennessey, has long been considered the race's front-runner. A candidate entering the race with Cunnie's level of experience, not to mention his bevvy of high-profile endorsements, will undoubtedly make things significantly more competitive.

Despite Hennessey's close personal relationship with Cunnie, Hennessey is sticking with his endorsement of Mirkarimi.

Whoever is elected sheriff will run an office with a staff of nearly 1,000 overseeing San Francisco's six county jails, tracking down fugitives feeling prosecution and those who have violated their parole, providing security for both the city's court system and serving alongside SFPD in natural disasters and other civic emergencies.