President Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, made it clear Tuesday: his boss will steer clear of the Los Angeles mayor’s race. Here’s the official transcript from a White House briefing where Carney was asked about the issue.
Q: “Is the President planning on weighing in on the Los Angeles mayor’s race? Eric Garcetti has been a big supporter of the President over the years.”
MR. CARNEY: “I appreciate the question. In keeping with past practice, when there is a primary, a Democratic primary in a race like this, we’re not — the President won’t endorse any candidate.”
Of course, it's not a primary, and it's not a partisan race, but you get the idea. President Obama doesn’t want to get involved in a race between two loyal Democrats, City Councilman Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel. That’s doesn’t mean the president doesn’t like Garcetti.
MR. CARNEY: “Mr. Garcetti is, of course, someone who has been a long-time supporter of the President. The President appreciates that support, appreciates their working relationship. But we won’t — there won’t be a formal endorsement.”
Indeed, Garcetti was an early backer of then-candidate Obama and served as the chairman of his California campaign in 2008. Greuel backed Hillary Clinton in 2012, and worked in Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s. Former President Clinton endorsed Greuel last week.
Garcetti already has capitalized on his ties to Obama. One campaign mailer to African-American voters shows a picture of Garcetti with the president. Obama’s decision to sit out the race doesn’t prevent Garcetti from doing that again.
And don’t forget the president's sly nod in another race between two Democrats. It happened in last year’s mammoth battle between Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman in the Western San Fernando Valley.
Again, the president refused to endorse either candidate. But on a fundraising trip to Los Angeles for his own re-election campaign, the president very publicly invited Berman to ride in his limousine to a party at George Clooney’s house. Berman still lost.
Is there a limo ride or some close facsimile in Garcetti’s future? And would it help?