Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Eric Garcetti pulls ahead — slightly — in mayoral money race

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

Candidates running to be Los Angeles' next mayor, in order from left to right: Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti. Both Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti report $2.8 million in their latest campaign reports, according to the Ethics Commission.

Money just keeps rolling in for the 2013 race for mayor of Los Angeles, and it appears hopefuls Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti are staying neck-and-neck when it comes to donations. 

In his quarterly campaign finance report, Garcetti reported $2.87 million – about $71,000 more than Greuel. Councilwoman Jan Perry reported $1.3 million, while attorney Kevin James had $275,000 and former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Emanuel Pleitez, had $110,000.

Those figures are for the period ending Sept. 30. Of course, the question hanging over the race is whether billionaire developer Rick Caruso will run for mayor. Caruso has the power to significantly outspend whatever the declared candidates could raise from donors. (It costs an estimated $1.4 million to do a week’s worth of television ads in Los Angeles.) 

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Mayor Villaraigosa backs Richard Alarcon for state Assembly

Democratic National Convention: Day 1

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed Councilman Richard Alarcon for state Assembly. Alarcon is due back in court next week as he faces 17 felonies for allegedly living outside his city council district.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has come to the aid of Councilman Richard Alarcon, endorsing him in his race to return to the state Assembly. The Democrat from the 7th Council District in Los Angeles served as the assemblyman in the the San Fernando Valley's 39th Assembly District six years ago.

Alarcon faces another Democrat, Raul Bocanegra, in the 39th District race. Bocanegra is the chief of staff to incumbent Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who is running for Alarcon’s City Council seat in the 2013 primary.

In the June primary, Bocanegra topped all candidates with 36.2 percent of the vote. Alarcon was second with 26.9 percent. California's "top two" primary system sends the primary's two leading votegetters regardless of party to a November runoff.

“Richard is not afraid to take on powerful, big-money interests, which is why virtually every special interest is doing everything in their power to stop him from going to Sacramento,” Villaraigosa said in a statement announcing his endorsement.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: USC development gets OK, more money in mayor's race, a look at affairs in San Fernando

USC

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

USC's plans to build a major development around its campus was approved by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

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.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Thursday, Oct. 11, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved USC's $1 billion-development plan for the area around campus, reports the Los Angeles Times. The deal includes $20 million for affordable housing and a new LAFD fire station for the city.

The quarterly campaign finance reports are in and Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel each report $2.8 million for their mayoral campaigns. Councilwoman Jan Perry has $1.3 million for her campaign, while Kevin James reported $275,000, per the Ethics Commission.

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Republicans spend up to $9 million on Calif. Congressional races; Democrats do same

YouTube

A screen capture of a Democratic Committee television advertisement against Republican U.S. representative Mary Bono Mack. Both political parties have allotted $9 million to California races, including advertisements like this one.

Seeing an opportunity to preserve current Congressional seats or gain new ones in the wake of redistricting in California, the National Republican Congressional Committee has set aside up to $9 million for races in the state, and the committee's Democratic counterpart has allocated a similar amount. Here's where some of that money is being spent — and why.
The top priority for both parties is protecting vulnerable incumbents. The NRCC is spending money on TV ads in Sacramento to support Dan Lungren, in Fresno for Jeff Denham, and in San Diego to help Brian Bilbray hold onto his seat. 

Daniel Scarpinato with the Republican committee says three factors affect spending decisions: the quality of the candidate, poll numbers, and where Democrats are spending their money. He says the GOP is paying more attention to what is the other side is doing, "and how’s it going to affect our decisions."

Jesse Ferguson with the Democratic committee says redistricting has presented his party with an embarrassment of riches: "The map has changed and we have a tremendous number of opportunities across the state." It allows them to go on the offensive, targeting those same three Republican Congressmen the GOP wants to protect — Lungren, Denham, and Bilbray — plus try to unseat Mary Bono Mack in Palm Springs. (Story continues below video window.)

But Republicans have also stepped up their offensive game, targeting three Democratic incumbents: freshman Congressman John Garamendi near Sacramento, Jerry McNerney in the Central Valley and Lois Capps in Santa Barbara. 

Democrats are not spending party money to defend incumbents in those races — at least not yet. 

The Democratic committee is putting money into a Long Beach race for an open seat, backing Alan Lowenthal, who nosed out GOP challenger Gary Delong in the June primary by just three percentage points.

In two other open seats, dollars are pouring in from both sides. In Ventura County, the Republicans are sending money to Tony Strickland; Democrats to Julia Brownley. In the Inland Empire, the GOP is supporting John Tavaglione; the Democrats are backing Mark Takano. 

In addition to TV ads, Scarpinato says Republicans have found another effective way to get the video message out: advertise on the website Hulu: "You might reach more people on Hulu now than you might with a cable television buy."

Democrats are reserving TV time in Sacramento, as well as Palm Springs and even Los Angeles. But Ferguson says the party is putting a chunk of change on its ground game, getting voters to the polls. He stresses that it's a Democratic priority, "particularly in California because it’s not a state that President Obama has to spend a lot of his time and money to turn out the vote."

Of course, the combined $17 million — so far — from the Republican and Democratic committees isn’t the only money being spent on California races. Millions more are pouring in from political action committees. The flood of cash guarantees one thing: lots of TV ads for Congressional candidates dominating the screen for the final four weeks of the campaign.

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LA's Becerra in Kentucky for VP debate

Kitty Felde/KPCC

L.A. Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra will be on hand as an official party surrogate at Thursday's VP debate.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are in Danville, Kentucky for this year’s only Vice Presidential debate. A Southern California Congressman is also on hand to offer his party’s take on the performance.

For reporters covering a debate, the action begins after the two candidates have shaken hands and God blessed America. A room adjacent to the debate hall is filled with prominent Democrats and Republicans waiting to give their take on the night’s events.

Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles is one of those folks in Kentucky. He says obviously the candidates can’t be out there to respond to everyone, so they ask people like him to be on site and play Spin the Press.

Becerra says surrogates get a summary of some of the issues that are likely to come up in the debate and statements the candidate has made in the past. But he says he doesn’t need a list of talking points: "I’ve been around just long enough that I know most of these issues well enough that I usually can express myself with my own words without having to rely on someone else trying to feed me them."

Becerra says he expects to spend quite a bit of time speaking with Spanish-language media covering the debate. 

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