Now that the race to finish second in the mayoral primary seems to be a fight to the death between Hahn and Hertzberg, the latter's manuevers to inoculate himself against negative hits are interesting to watch. You'll remember, Hertzberg accused Hahn of planning to go negative, and challenged him not to—while threatening to unleash a barrage of hits himself. In his latest gambit, Hertzberg faxed Hahn a "time is up" ultimatum this afternoon. It gives Hahn a last chance to agree not to get into personal stuff [Hertzberg likely doesn't want to be hit for suing his father or trying to reduce his kids' child support] and calls for a verbal duel tomorrow morning—on talk radio.

It is clear that I will become your next target. And I'm ready for it, no complaints and no excuses. Let me be clear: I understand that criticism is a necessary part of the political process. And if you don't think that I should be mayor of Los Angeles, you're certainly entitled to deliver that message to the voters. But I hope you'd have the courage to first deliver that same message to me in person....

At every debate throughout this campaign, I have told you to your face why I think you shouldn't be mayor. I am asking for the same courtesy from you. Rather than hiding behind your campaign consultants and their television commercials, I'd urge you to use this opportunity to demonstrate to the people of our city that you're willing to stand up for what you believe in. Stand next to me, look me straight in the eye, and tell me what attacks you will unleash on me - let's have an honest discussion about the merits of your attacks. Then run all the ads you want.

I will be on KABC's McIntyre in the Morning on Thursday at 7 AM. Before you begin an advertising campaign against me, I'm offering you the opportunity to join me in studio to make your case against me to my face.

I'm still waiting to see how it's clear that Hahn will say anything about Hertzberg that's worse than what the former Speaker has put out. But Hahn has certainly gone negative in past campaigns.

I held off reporting on yesterday's KABC/SurveyUSA automated poll to see what the media did with it. Apparently nobody except blogs bit. SurveyUSA is controversial because poll respondents don't talk to a live interviewer, instead they punch answers into their phone. The poll's director gave a lengthy defense of his methods and track record at National Journal's Hotline this month (link via BoifromTroy.) Anyway, the numbers show Villaraigosa with 36% among likely voters, Hahn 19%, Parks 15%, Hertzberg 14%, Alarcon 6% with others and undecided only taking 10%. The margin of error is 4.9%. Villaraigosa's camp is touting the poll, Hertzberg's is pooh-poohing the methodology.

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