A pundit named Jeffe *

JeffeSherry Bebitch Jeffe submits to questions about the mayor's race from CityBeat editor Steve Appleford, who noticed that she is the expert debate reporters go to when they need some spin-free punditry. Jeffe is a senior scholar at USCís School of Policy, Planning, and Development and political analyst these days for KNBC-4. She says Hahn hasn't been hurt badly by the ethics investigations, Hertzberg's school breakup scheme is a bid for the Valley secession vote, and Villaraigosa's spark is missing: "This is not the 2001 Villaraigosa campaign."


Has the Valleyís importance grown for elections to citywide office?

Last time, it was 42 percent of the vote and thatís pretty impressive. The Valley has become an important part of this race partially because Hahnís coalition consisted of the Valley and the African-American community, and the Valley was an important part of that coalition. Itís a high-propensity voting area. There are two Valley candidates this time around. The fight over secession really brought the Valley around, politically, organized groups in the Valley....

How will Riordanís endorsement of Hertzberg help him?

It will help him in the Valley. It will help him among Republicans, to a degree. Not among conservatives. But again, he has to get word of that endorsement out. I havenít seen it yet, other than in the press. The other important thing about Riordan is his abandonment of Villaraigosa for Hertzberg, in that itís another shift of support away from Villaraigosa. He lost labor, the Democratic Party didnít endorse, Riordan jumped ship, and the perception is that Villaraigosaís campaign is stalling.

How did you react to City Controller Laura Chickís private meetings with Hahnís challengers to brief them on her investigations around pay-to-play?

That was a very foolish decision on her part. If staff members decided on their own time to support and work and help one candidate or another, thatís one thing. If they were directed to do it, itís quite another....It just was not a smart move, as far as I can tell.

This week's CityBeat also has cover stories on the battle for the Valley between Hertzberg and Richard Alarcon. In the LA Weekly, Harold Meyerson weighs in on the race and calls Hahn even money to flat out lose in the primary. Villaraigosa tells Meyerson that he's purposely more cautious in 2005, knowing he needs moderates to win: "I am not as scary and not as exciting as I was last time." Campaign manager Parke Skelton says, "Weíre focusing on the targets we need in [the] May [runoff]: white Valley Democrats who vote for Hertzberg in the primary and African-Americans who vote for Parks in the primary." Meyerson says the model is Tom Bradley's successful campaign in 1973.

It seems that Meyerson both expects, and would like to see, a runoff pitting former Sacramento roommates Villaraigosa and Hertzberg:

[It] would pit one candidate whose chief focus is to hold on to the middle class against another whose chief focus is to build one out of the cityís underpaid retail and service-sector workers. That may not be as compelling a narrative as that of the battle between the two old roomies, but itís surely a more important one for the future of Los Angeles.

Also in the Weekly: Robert Greene finds it appropriate that the KCAL-9 debate was held on the set of "American Idol." Because the candidates are all just acting out a show and promising stuff they have no clue how to deliver.

* Eagle eye: Blogger BoifromTroy spots a different ending to the Meyerson piece in the Washington Post.

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