The list includes several local candidates who had already expressed their interest in the office, including current acting Sheriff Jack Anderson, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters, former Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Hunt and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Cmdr. Ralph Martin. Walters, Hunt and Martin all ran against former Sheriff Michael S. Carona and lost.
Five of the candidates are current or former members of the department. There appeared to be only two women on the list.
Among the other more high-profile applicants were the undersheriff of the Bronx, N.Y., department; the head of the FBI office in Jackson, Miss.; an assistant director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and the director of the Miami-Dade County corrections department.
The more obscure applicants included the owner of a liquor business in Bel Air, Md.; the retired police chief of Duck, N.C.; and an office manager for the Hamilton County, Ind., Superior Court.
The county hired a recruiting firm to seek candidates for the post Carona vacated in January, when he stepped down to focus on fighting a federal corruption indictment. The county Board of Supervisors has invited public comments on the search at its May 6 meeting; the board plans to conduct public interviews of the final candidates on May 27 and make a decision June 3.
John Moorlach, chairman of the board, said the list of candidates rapidly expanded during the final week of the application period, to the 47 on Friday.
"I'm real pleased with all the response," he said. "It caught us off guard."
"In light of the way that Carona left office, it was important to me that they do this nationwide call so at the end of the process whoever is selected is validated and helps restore confidence in the organization," Anderson said Friday. "Of course, I hope that's me."
Wayne Quint, president of the deputies' union, said the number of applicants was a sign that the job and the department are among the best in the United States.
He said he hoped the Board of Supervisors was not afraid to look outside the region for a new sheriff.
"The old Carona regime must go," Quint said. "Anyone associated with Carona must go. I hope the county hires someone who truly will put the interests of public safety first and foremost above politics and they hire the most qualified candidate, local or not."