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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA mayor's race: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel set for runoff in May (update)

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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013 Two politicians who once served together as leaders on the Los Angeles City Council will face one another in the May 21 runoff for mayor.

Early Tuesday, with 100 percent of the votes counted , Eric Garcetti garnered the most votes among the field of eight candidates with 33 percent of the vote. City Controller Wendy Greuel followed close behind with 29 percent. The results mirrored what both poll and fundraising numbers showed for months – the councilman and controller remain neck-and-neck.

RELATED:  Eric Garcetti speaks on Take Two about campaigning, LA's biggest issues and his break dancing past

Wendy Greuel on Take Two talking about the mayor race, labor support and education policy

Addressing his supporters at the Avalon club in Hollywood, Garcetti took aim at the independent political action committees that have spent millions of dollars on behalf of Greuel's campaign.

“There’s a choice between a mayor’s office that is bought and paid for by the powerful members of the DWP union and one that is by the people, for the people and of the people,” he said.

Touting her tenure as the city's fiscal watchdog, Greuel told her backers at downtown's Los Angeles Brewing Company that the city: "deserves tough and strong leadership. A leader tough enough to root out waste, fraud and abuse at City Hall and bringing our fiscal house in order. I am that leader.” 

Councilwoman Jan Perry came in fourth-place,  just behind conservative attorney  Kevin James, who tried to use his Republican credentials to appeal to conservative voters. If they decide to make endorsements in the runoff, it could prove decisive. Perry's campaign was angered in recent days by Greuel's broaching of a bankruptcy filing by Perry and her former husband in the 1990s.

Dark horse candidate Emanuel Pleitez, who some thought might steal a substantial number of Latino voters from Garcetti, finished a distant fifth.

Greuel and Garcetti’s struggle to differentiate themselves dominated the primary season. For the better part of Garcetti’s six years as council president, Greuel served as the president pro tempore, which means the two shared council accomplishments. As a result, their campaigns focused on the differences in their biographies and temperaments.

But as the campaign progressed, l abor support and the influx of independent expenditures divided the two camps. The Greuel campaign raised $4.4. million; Garcetti raised $4.3 million. However, labor – from the police union to the union representing Department of Water and Power employees – spent another $2.1 million in Greuel’s favor. Mailers and TV commercials flooded mailboxes and the airwaves.

The spending may even out in the general election. A political action committee, whose organizers include a former fundraiser for President Obama's campaign, has said it will spend big on Garcetti's behalf  in advance of the May 21 runoff.

The new mayor will be sworn in on July 1.

City Attorney and City Controller

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and former Assemblyman Mike Feuer earned enough votes to make it to the runoff. Trutanich, the incumbent, got 30 percent of the vote, compared to Feuer’s 44 percent. Attorney Greg Smith placed third with about 17 percent of the vote, despite giving his campaign $737,000 of his own money.

Councilman Dennis Zine and city commissioner Ron Galperin will face off in the May runoff to succeed Greuel as city controller. They both received 37 percent of the vote, with Galperin holding a 239 vote lead.

Zine , a former LAPD officer, significantly outraised his opponents. His campaign collected $811,303, compared to Galperin’s $362,727. Galperin, an attorney who has served as Chair of the City of L.A. Commission on Revenue Efficiency, received the L.A. Times' endorsement.

Los Angeles City Council

The most competitive race at the city council level was in Hollywood’s 13th District, the seat being vacated by Garcetti. With 100 percent of the votes counted, former Public Works Commissioner John Choi and former council aide Mitch O’Farrell appeared headed for the May 21 runoff.

O’Farrell, a former Garcetti aide, received about 18 percent of the vote. Choi, who was backed by labor and more than $209,000 in independent expenditures, was close behind with 16 percent of the vote. They will surely vie for endorsements from some of the 10 other candidates who were on the ballot.

In South Los Angeles, state Sen. Curren Price appeared headed to a runoff against former council aide Ana Cubas for the District 9 seat being vacated by Jan Perry. With all of the district's votes counted, Price led Cubas by 27 percent to 24 percent.

If Cubas were to win the runoff, she would become the district’s first non-African-American council member since 1963. The historically African-American district has become increasingly Latino in the past two decades.

The 1st District race to replace termed-out Councilman Ed Reyes also appeared headed for a runoff. With all of the votes in, longtime state lawmaker Gil Cedillo had almost 49 percet  of the vote. Reyes' chief of staff, Jose Gardea, had nearly 43 percent of the vote. The third candidate, Jesse Rosas, forced a runoff because neither of his opponents got more than 50 percent of the vote.

State Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, who was reelected to the legislature just last November, will represent District 3 by getting 52 percent of the vote. 

Another former Assemblyman, Felipe Fuentes, also avoided a runoff in the 7th District. In the race to succeed outgoing Councilman Richard Alarcón, Fuentes got 52 percent of the votes.

Mike Bonin, chief of staff to Councilman Bill Rosendahl, easily won election in the 11th District by getting 61 percent of the vote. Bonin decided to run for the seat after Rosendahl’s cancer treatments dashed his hopes of a third term of office.

In the 5th and 25th districts, Paul Koretz and Joe Buscaino were easily reelected.

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