Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

VIDEO: LA mayoral candidate Kevin James and his billionaire benefactor

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Los Angeles mayoral candidate Kevin James likes to point out that one of the donors to the “superPAC” supporting him is Chicago-based Henry Crown & Co., which in the past has supported President Barack Obama.

“So this ‘superPAC’ is truly bipartisan,” James said Monday of Better Way LA.

But the $100,000 donation by the private equity firm pales when compared to the $600,000 from the only other donor, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons.

This is the Simmons who doled out more than $25 million to Republican groups trying to defeat President Obama, whom Simmons labels “a socialist” and “the most dangerous man in America.” 

That kind of help could hurt a mayoral candidate in overwhelmingly Democratic LA.

James said he doesn’t agree with Simmons’ characterization of Obama, but nonetheless appreciates his support.  James desperately needs it. He’s raised a fraction of the campaign cash of his opponents, all Democrats.

The entertainment attorney and former radio talk show host said he met Simmons once – at a campaign fundraiser in Santa Barbara (where Simmons has an estate). 

Simmons, who heads a chemical and metals conglomerate, jumped into the LA mayor’s race thanks in part to the participation of nationally recognized Republican advertising strategist Fred Davis, who lives in Hollywood and created the “superPAC” for James.

As a gay Republican, James portrays himself as a “new type of voice” in the party.  “I hope that’s something that Mr. Simmons sees,” said James. 

Simmons, who rarely speaks to the media, told the Wall Street Journal he’s mostly interested in deregulation – not social issues.

Davis has rounded up a fraction of the $3.5 million he’d hope to raise to help James. So for now, he’s created an online ad in the tradition of his famous ad portraying U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell as a "demon sheep."

In the ad promoting James, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry are foxes. It's called “Outwit the Foxes.”

City ethics laws prohibit James from coordinating his campaign with Better Way LA. But of course he’s seen the four-and-a-half minute online ad.

“I thought that it was very entertaining,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen a little more about the substantive ideas that I bring into the race.”

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