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Thursday, April 21, 2005

LA-Mayor: Spending Cap and Gloves Come Off

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the LA Times:

Villaraigosa campaign strategist Ace Smith said the city councilman, who raised $1.8 million by last Sunday, would collect as much as he can.

"Jim Hahn ran one of the sleaziest campaigns in American history four years ago," said Smith, referring to the June 2001 matchup in which Villaraigosa lost to Hahn. "We know we are going to need every dollar possible to respond."

Hahn campaign strategist Kam Kuwata said that "all the money in the world cannot cover up" Villaraigosa's "very shaky record" in public office.

Hahn and Villaraigosa, meanwhile, spent the day attacking each other's records on crime and education.

Two weeks ago I noted Villaraigosa's financial advantage. However, both numbers reported at that time showed a low level of interest with less than impressive contribution totals. Now, the independent spending it giving Hahn temporary relief from being at a financial disadvantage.

Mayor James K. Hahn and his opponent, Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, can spend an unlimited amount of money on their May 17 runoff election because the cap was lifted Wednesday when two unions with close ties to Hahn reported spending $320,000 to support his reelection.

Hahn has so far benefited from $402,632 in independent spending, primarily from unions, while Villaraigosa has benefited from $121,865, less than a third as much.

There are no limits on independent expenditures, but spending more than $200,000 for or against a candidate removes the $1.8-million cap on how much candidates can spend.

The election is May 17th and with less than a month to go, this race is going to get expensive and nasty. Here are the latest poll numbers that I've seen:

Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa has pulled ahead of Mayor James Hahn by 18 points in the race to lead the nation's second-largest city, according to a Los Angeles Times poll released Tuesday.

Voters would oust Hahn for Villaraigosa by a margin of 53 percent to 35 percent if the election were held today, according to a survey released on the newspaper's Web site. Twelve percent were undecided.

The poll held few positive signs for Hahn, with nearly two-thirds of likely voters saying they believed his policies have left the city no better off and desiring a new direction.

A half a million in IE money isn't to do too much for an unpopular mayor who is trailing by 18 points.

Posted at 12:39 PM in 2005 Elections, California | Technorati


Okay, one observation, one question:

1) When an incumbent loses an early primary, that's a really, really long lame-duck period. I mean, Hahn would be a lame duck for more than half a year. I suppose it's not as big a deal when an incumbent Congressman, say, loses a primary. But Hahn still has the second-largest city in the US to run, which is an intensive, day-to-day job. I wonder if people will still respect his authority.

2) So is this like NYC (or at least, the way NYC used to be), where if you win the Dem primary you win the whole thing? Somehow, I'm guessing not - Republican Dick Riordan used to be mayor not that long ago, as I recall. So who will Villaraigosa face in the fall, and what are his odds of victory then?

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2005 01:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment