12 days and counting

A new round of campaign contribution reports hits the paper today. Bottom line: you'll be seeing a lot of Hahn and Villaraigosa on TV between now and March 8, even if you live in Anaheim, Azusa or Rancho Cucamonga. Here's what the Big 5 have to spend:

Antonio Villaraigosa: $1,098,183
Jim Hahn: $1,077,149
Bob Hertzberg: $779,444
Bernard Parks: $337,446
Richard Alarcon: $78,687

Expect to see the bulk of it spent on television spots, even though the candidates have to pay to air their commercials in five Southern California counties (population over 17 million) to reach the relative small number of Los Angeles residents who will actually vote. Last time, 511,521 ballots were cast in the primary, and that was for a wide-open office with no incumbent (turnout was 33% of those registered.)

"You're kind of stuck," said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, noting the limited effectiveness of other means of advertising, such as campaign mailers. "It's the TV ads that have the most powerful effect."

Stephen P. Erie, a Los Angeles politics expert at UC San Diego, says "now is when people are beginning to focus. This is when it becomes mass entertainment." Fundraising continues, of course. Villaraigosa led in collections in the latest period, taking in $360,223. Hertzberg was next with $229,216, then Hahn with $153,684, Alarcon at $103,986 and Parks at $80,650.

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