Race has become an undercurrent in the mayoral campaign between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. This week, the candidates unveiled endorsements from prominent African-Americans who they hope will help sway black voters in the May 21 runoff.
Wendy Greuel on Thursday touted the support of Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson. That same day, Garcetti received the backing of City Council colleague and former mayoral rival Jan Perry, who had the strongest showing among African-American voters in the primary.
And now Garcetti's added the support of another council colleague, Bernard Parks, the former LAPD chief who is widely respected in the black community.
But it's an incident between Greuel and Perry during the primary that continues to reverberate.
Speaking outside the 28th Street YMCA Thursday to announce her support for Garcetti, Perry told reporters she doesn't make decisions based on personal issues. But then she made it clear she is still upset about negative mailers the Greuel campaign sent out in the primary that highlighted financial problems Perry and her ex-husband had during their marriage.
“You know, Dr. Maya Angelou has a very interesting quote," Perry recounted. "And I’m only paraphrasing it, but Dr. Angelou says, 'Thank you for letting me know who you are.' So, I’m clear. I understood. I got the memo. It was clear to me. I didn’t need to engage in any false pretenses because that’s not who I am.”
After the March 5 primary, Greuel left Perry a voicemail asking if the two women could get together. Perry did not return the call.
Over at Intersections South LA — in an essay titled "Who's that white lady?" — commentator Jasmyne Cannick writes Greuel's line of attack isn't likely to go over well in poorer parts of the city:
"I guess in the San Fernando Valley, where Greuel hails from, they’re immune to foreclosures, repossessions, unemployment, and yes — even bankruptcies. But around here, we’re not and for someone to go through a rough patch and still come out on top is inspiring — not be used as a negative campaign tool."
Two groups of African-American women have endorsed Garcetti, and one of them also pointed to the Greuel mailer as a factor in its decision.
At her Thursday press conference, Greuel defended the mailers, arguing that politicians are public figures whose lives should be an open book.
“If you just look at all of the mailers that were hit pieces on me — look, this is politics," Greuel said. "I did call her to talk to her. I’ve known her for a long time and, look – after this election – a lot of things happen, but I’m so excited today about Magic Johnson’s endorsement."
Right, Magic Johnson. He endorsed Greuel at the West Angeles Church of God about two hours after the Garcetti-Perry news conference. Here's what Perry had to say about the endorsement:
I admire Magic Johnson very much. He’s a great role model. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a great businessman. He’s a very wealthy man, and a member of the Guggenheim organization and you know, I don’t know if I would call that grassroots but it’s OK.”
And I’m happy that he’s wealthy. You know, I have a lot of love for him, OK.
The NBA legend got in his own digs. According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson said, "I'm the one who started redevelopment in South Los Angeles, not Jan Perry. I did it. I love Jan. She's a good person and she did a wonderful job with what she did downtown, but in L.A., South L.A., I'm the one."
Guess that means Johnson and Perry won't be taking in a Dodgers game together any time soon.