Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA politics: Trutanich, Feuer to hold first debate; where’s Greg Smith?

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City of Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich faces challenges from State Assemblyman Mike Feuer and attorney Greg Smith in the March Primary Election.

Carmen Trutanich, the incumbent L.A. City Attorney, faces challenger Assemblyman Mike Feuer in their first debate at Notre Dame High School Wednesday.  

They could hardly be more different.

“Carmen Trutanich is a very strong, opinionated, rough and tumble guy,” said Richard Close, the longtime president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.

Mike Feuer “is more of an academic person,” said Close, who knows both candidates from their many visits to court voters in the San Fernando Valley. “Its like day and night.”

Trutanich, 61, the incumbent L.A. City Attorney, faces challenger Assemblyman Mike Feuer in their first debate at Notre Dame High School Wednesday at 7:15p.m. Close’s association is the sponsor.

Trutanich is fresh off his shocking defeat in the race for L.A. County District Attorney. He didn’t even finish in the top two.  Now, he’s struggling to keep his current job. The outspoken Trutanich is low on campaign cash, and even filed a lawsuit against his former campaign consultant John Shallman over how Shallman spent money in the D.A.’s race.  It is a bit of a mess.

Feuer, 54, ran for city attorney once before – losing to Rocky Delgadillo in 2001. Feuer, who served on the L.A. City Council in the 1990s, is termed out of the state assembly.

Feuer has raised $800,000 for the March 5 primary election. Trutanich has raised $220,000.

But another candidate may loom large in this race for city attorney, a powerful and important job with responsibility for representing L.A. in legal matters, ranging from development to police abuse.

Greg Smith is a private attorney who represents police officers and firefighters who file lawsuits against the city.  Smith has raised just $190,000, but he’s kicked in another $650,000 of his own.  He’s rejected city matching funds, which means the wealthy lawyer can spend as much as he wants on the race.

One possible ace in the hole for Smith: the powerful police and firefighters unions may be inclined to support a man who now represents their members in court against the city.

Close, who helped organize the debate, said Smith failed to call him regarding participating in it.  A Smith spokesman said Close made it clear his candidate was not welcome.

“There are going to be a lot more opportunities,” said Smith spokesman John Thomas.

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