Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maven's Morning Coffee: Wendy Greuel addresses critics, the state of the Republican party, and a visit with Ed Edelman

Grant Slater/KPCC

Wendy Greuel, seen here on election night, used a speech at UCLA to address "the political establishment and the media" who have questioned whether she would be beholden to labor if elected mayor.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Wednesday, April 3, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

In a speech at UCLA, Wendy Greuel told her supporters she would be an independent mayor, despite criticism that she would be beholden to labor because of the money unions have spent to back her campaign. "My opponent seems to think I should apologize for having earned the support of working people. When he's not out pandering to them for their endorsement, (Eric) Garcetti throws the word 'union' around like it's a slur, and has even called L.A.'s working people 'power brokers', " she said in her speech. Los Angeles Times, KPCC, LAObserved, LA Weekly

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Will President Obama's absence from LA mayor’s race hurt Eric Garcetti?

A Garcetti campaign mailer targeting African-American voters shows the mayoral campaign with the president. Garcetti served as chairman of then-candidate Obama's California campaign in 2008

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.

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LA mayor's race: Wendy Greuel re-starts campaign with aggressive tone (updated)

Grant Slater/KPCC

Controller Wendy Greuel, seen here on election night for the primary, gave an aggressive speech Tuesday intended to quiet critics who say she may be overly influenced by support from labor.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel rebooted her campaign Tuesday with a speech that defended her support from City Hall unions and attacked her opponent, Eric Garcetti, as someone who “is good at handshakes, but who won’t stand by his work or his commitment.”

Greuel also used the speech to criticize the media for focusing on the $2.1 million that labor spent to support her in the primary. In a briefing with reporters, Greuel said Garcetti chose to “demonize” City Hall unions after failing to win their support.

“When he’s not out pandering to them for their endorsement, Garcetti throws the word ‘union’ around like it’s a slur, and has even called L.A.’s working people ‘power brokers,’” Greuel said.

Her comments came just after former mayoral candidate Kevin James endorsed Garcetti for mayor.

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LA mayor's race: Former candidate Kevin James endorses Eric Garcetti (Updated)

Kevin James and Eric Garcetti

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Kevin James, left, endorsed onetime rival mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti outside the Van Nuys branch of L.A.'s City Hall Tuesday.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Kevin James, who finished third in the mayoral primary, endorsed Eric Garcetti over Wendy Greuel in the race for L.A. mayor Tuesday.

James said he ran to provide an independent voice at City Hall, and he concluded that Garcetti was the more independent of the two finalists. He also saw Garcetti as more able to focus on economic development and job creation.

“Eric has demonstrated some independence from the traditional  power interests inside City Hall. That is important as we move forward as a city,” James told reporters and others as he stood alongside Garcetti at the steps of the Van Nuys City Hall building.

James has been critical of Greuel's support from labor unions, saying she would be beholden to them when key contracts come up for renewal next year. Greuel countered with her own press briefing Tuesday, accusing Garcetti of "demonizing" the unions.

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As Congress approaches gun control vote, California members split

US-POLITICS-FISCAL CLIFF

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 2, 2013.

When the Senate returns from its Easter break next week, one of its first votes is expected to be on a gun violence measure. Some Republican Senators have threatened a filibuster. Any gun control measure that survives the Senate will face stiff opposition in the GOP-led House.

The positions of California lawmakers on gun issues are shaped by political philosophy – but also geography and personal experience.

The Big Bear Shootout

Freshman Republican Congressman Paul Cook represents a rural California district that includes Big Bear, where  ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner ended his shooting rampage. That happened on Feb. 12, just hours before President Obama prodded Congress for new gun control legislation in his State of the Union address. 

Cook says the Dorner incident could well turn his constituents against gun control. He says that’s part of the reason why they’re "very sensitive about having their own personal weapon, that they can defend themselves against somebody that comes in there."

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