Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined the Wendy Greuel mayoral campaign Monday as a co-chair, telling supporters she will help strategize, walk precincts and fundraise.
The endorsement came as mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti picked up support from several high-profile African-American politicians: Congresswoman Karen Bass, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and former council members Nate Holden and Rita Walters.
Waters told reporters the dueling endorsements should be seen as activism, not division, within the black community.
“We don’t like low voter turnouts," Waters said. "We don’t like people not being involved, and so when people can get excited about a race, that’s good for all of us.”
In the March 5 primary, just 20 percent of L.A.'s registered voters participated. Of those voters, according to an exit poll from Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles, 12 percent were African-American.
In the May 21 runoff, only the contest for Council District 9 will include an African-American candidate — State Sen. Curren Price. Turnout in that race for the primary was the lowest of the eight council races on the ballot.
The Waters endorsement is important because of the congresswoman’s ability to mobilize voters in the African-American community with her influential slate mailer. She has served in Congress since 1991.
Waters' announcement was made outside City Hall. Before the news conference began, a group of women, which included former Councilwoman Roz Wyman and former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, chanted: “I am woman, hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore.” If elected, Greuel would become L.A.'s first female mayor.
The runoff is six weeks away.