The undersheriff led attorney John Hemmerling 58.2% to 41.8%, garnering 250,638 votes to his 179,924.
If her lead continues, Martinez will serve as the department’s first female sheriff following her appointment last year as the county law enforcement agency’s first female second-in-command.
She has been with the department since 1985, and has former Sheriff Bill Gore’s endorsement, along with that of several other prominent office holders, including County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
Hemmerling, a former prosecutor with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, resigned following concerns over comments he made regarding transgender individuals.
The former San Diego police officer and U.S. Marine received endorsements from prominent Republicans, including the state party, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Joel Anderson.
Gore left office in February, a year before his term had been set to end, leaving Martinez, who already had declared for the sheriff’s race, to serve as acting sheriff.
Updated 10:17 p.m. Nov. 8, 2022