a former Assembly Speaker and charismatic union organizer, [who] is wildly popular with the labor rank and file. He is also beloved by the city's predominately left-wing media, including the influential LA Weekly, which sees him as ushering in a new "progressive" epoch based on the marriage of left-labor politics and advocacy for the city's Latino residents. [..] If they face Villaraigosa [..] in the run-off, Hahn's savvy advisors can be expected to use his long-time associations with the ACLU, Latino nationalist groups, and the radical fringe of the Democratic Party to paint him as a devotee of the far left.
has tried to appeal to the center-right base that elected Richard Riordan in 1993 and 1997. Hertzberg is also a Jew married to a Latina, not a bad combination for a city where those two groups amount to almost half of voters. Riordan has already endorsed Hertzberg, as has Assemblyman Keith Richman, the most important elected Republican from Los Angeles in the state legislature. [..] Hertzberg's big ace in the hole may be his home base, the San Fernando Valley, a middle-class suburban enclave that normally delivers more than two out of every five votes in the first round of voting. Hertzberg, who is running on a platform of government efficiency and breaking up the dysfunctional school district, appeals directly to these voters.
To that end, he played up his friendship and political alliance with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Hertzberg also kept tightly focused on a campaign agenda designed to appeal to Republicans, such as his vow to break apart the Los Angeles Unified School District and hire 3,000 police officers without raising taxes.
In the campaign's final stretch, Schwarzenegger appeared with Hertzberg to support the candidate's school district breakup proposal. And former Mayor Richard Riordan, the governor's education secretary, campaigned frequently with Hertzberg, including a joint appearance Tuesday.
Part of Hertzberg's campaign strategy was to replicate much of the coalition that elected Riordan mayor in 1993, with appeals to Valley, Jewish, Republican, conservative and moderate white voters.
In a major poll conducted last fall by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos parted company from both whites and blacks in favoring (by a 55 percent to 38 percent margin) a bigger government that taxes more to provide a high level of services over a smaller government that taxes less and provides fewer services. Even Latino Republicans backed a high-taxing big government. Similarly, we know from exit polling on a 1998 ballot measure that California Latinos are the most staunchly pro-union group in the California electorate (slightly more so, in fact, than union members themselves).
Hertzberg ran as the candidate of the city's middle class, tailoring his appeal largely to the San Fernando Valley, the city's most suburbanized area. He focused on issues like traffic, taxes, police protection, business growth, and dysfunctional schools--topics that are the chief concerns of middle-class homeowners. Yesterday Hertzberg won the bulk of these voters. The problem? Middle-class residents here may no longer have large enough ranks to elect one of their own to citywide office. This may have turned the famously energetic Hertzberg into the little engine that could not climb the demographic hill. Whatever the merits of the candidates in this particular election, one thing is clear: The underlying demographic factors that doomed Hertzberg's campaign spell bad news for Los Angeles, and for the American city in general.
Hahn already has showcased his fundraising prowess, outpacing Villaraigosa in the first round of the race. He also neutralized the support his opponent previously enjoyed from organized labor and the Democratic Party, which poured millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers into the effort to elect Villaraigosa in 2001. This time, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, endorsed the mayor, and local Democrats were too divided to back one candidate.
But Villaraigosa, a former labor organizer who remains popular with the rank-and-file, won the backing of more than four in 10 union members on Tuesday, outstripping the fifth who voted for Hahn.
After running a relatively low-key campaign in the first round, Villaraigosa [..] now faces the prospect of a May 17 rematch with his first adversary, Mayor James K. Hahn, or a bid against a former friend, Sherman Oaks attorney Bob Hertzberg. Both have already shown themselves to be tough campaigners who are willing to brawl.
Villaraigosa took a different tack in the round ending Tuesday, casting himself as the "unity" candidate and trying to stay above the fray while his opponents quarreled. His languid approach was in sharp contrast to the ebullient tenor of 2001, when Villaraigosa would have become the city's first Latino mayor in modern times.
"Antonio believes the reason he lost last time is because he allowed himself to get tagged as too liberal, too beholden to labor, too Latino," said Republican strategist Allan Hoffenblum, who is not involved in the race. "My gut feeling is that he didn't want to get pointed too far to the left and so he just sat on his lead, waiting to come up for a game plan for the Super Bowl."
But in the runoff, Villaraigosa is confronted with the challenge he faced in 2001: piecing together a multiethnic coalition in the tradition of the late Mayor Tom Bradley, the city's first black mayor, who won office in 1973 with the backing of African Americans, liberal voters and Jews, along with a narrow majority of Latinos.
Pulling together such disparate groups is a difficult task. If he seeks to energize Latinos about the prospect of a historic first, Villaraigosa could alarm other voters who are wary of the group's growing political clout, analysts said. But shying away from the ethnic pride associated with his bid could deflate excitement among that important constituency.
[..] At first blush, Villaraigosa's strategy appears to have positioned him well. [He] had by far the most positive image of all the candidates, with three-quarters of the electorate viewing him in a favorable light, according to The Times' [exit poll].
But the councilman must now deepen his support in a two-man race against an opponent who will have an edge among a large swath of voters. To do so, he has to hone a sharper message in the second half of the race, political analysts said.
"I don't think the public could name what Villaraigosa stands for," said UCLA political science professor Frank Gilliam.
Four years ago, Villaraigosa's efforts to depict himself as a centrist coalition-builder were stymied when Hahn aggressively portrayed him as a risky liberal who was soft on crime.
He got his start as a teachers union organizer, but it would be a mistake to view him solely as the liberal, pro-union candidate. In the Assembly, he impressed many (and disappointed a few of his followers) with his skill at bringing two sides together. He is known best as a gifted coalition builder, as when he stepped in when Hahn didn't to help halt the 2003 transit strike.
Another controversial development, however, appeared to be losing Tuesday night in Redondo Beach. Incomplete results showed voters favoring a plan to turn a prime 76-acre tract next to the city's marina into a park rather than allow it to be used for a large mixed-use project.
The advisory measure, Proposition J, asked voters to choose between two proposals. With 10 of 12 precincts counted and none of the absentee votes, the park proposal received 2,461 votes and the commercial project received 1,871.
Under the first scenario, the land would become Heart Park, including wetlands, walking trails, athletic fields and an amphitheater. The other plan calls for the development of Village Park, a large mixed-use project with 350 homes, a 400-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of commercial space, a 16-acre park, a lake and canals.
Villaraigosa wants to take away guns from law abiding citizens and let the illegal aliens unionize. What a joke.
Looks like Ahnold's preferred candidate is already out of the race, cjhsa. Its the "liberal commie" versus the corrupt "machine" bureaucrat now ;-)
I hope Arnold can help sway this election. The last thing we need is a progressive (read, liberal commie) in charge in L.A. As if it isn't bad enough in San Francisco.