Keeping it clean, L.A. style

After months of attacking Jim Hahn as a corrupt empty suit—including a new mailer depicting the mayor with a bumper sticker that reads "I brake for campaign contributors"—Bob Hertzberg called on the mayor and other candidates not to go negative in the final two weeks. If they do, he threatens, then he will. "I'll hit back as hard as I can," Hertzberg vowed Monday. Hahn's people retorted, "After weeks of shrill negative campaigning by (former) Speaker Hertzberg, including untrue, negative attacks in his extensive paid direct-mail campaign, we will give this proposal the consideration it deserves." In the Times story, Hertzberg's ploy is billed as part of a game of chicken between candidates readying their own negative hits and trying to decide whether to use them. Democratic strategist Gary South, a Villaraigosa supporter, says, "This is like playing three- or four-level chess. You have to not only try to figure out what the possible consequences of every move you make might be, but what the consequences of the countermoves of your opponent might be."

Remembering Hahn's 2001 TV spot linking Antonio Villaraigosa to crack smoking because of his letter on behalf of Carlos Vignali, you have to wonder what scary imagery they would use against Hertzberg, who also appealed for clemency for Vignali. Excessive hugging? Being Jewish? Hahn says there is nothing coming. Stay tuned.

Also in the race: I finally saw one of Bernard Parks movie theater commercials. The Santa Monica audience seemed uninterested and unimpressed...The Times has a front-page piece on Hahn trying to re-woo the black vote...The Breeze says that in the South Bay, where a move to break Carson out of the L.A. school district lost in a 2-1 landslide, Hertzberg's call to split up LAUSD is met with skepticism...In the New York Times, John Broder and Charlie LeDuff wrap up the race and observe that not a head turned when Hahn strode into Pete's Cafe downtown for an interview. They also do Art's Deli with Hertzberg and a Starbucks with Villaraigosa...Brian Hay, who compiles the news digest that drives traffic to Hertzberg's website, was rear-ended on the San Diego Freeway in the rain yesterday. Digest delayed...In the Sacramento Bee, Dan Walters takes a deep breath and pronounces the race, "a reflection of the deep-seated ethnic and regional divisions in a sprawling metropolis that lacks either physical or metaphysical center." OK then.

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