Times endorses for mayor *

VillaraigosaHertzberg* Updated with excerpts

The paper says Sunday that a spirited runoff betwen Antonio Villaraigosa and Bob Hertzberg would be good for the city, and doesn't name a favorite—only that the ideal mayor would combine the best of both men. It's a major boost for the lesser-known Hertzberg—"think of him as the enlightened businessman's candidate"—and somewhat of a slap at Villaraigosa, who won the enthusiastic backing of the paper's editorial page in 2001. As for Hahn, last Sunday's editorial about lackluster leadership is offered as the case against him coming back for a second term.

It's not just that either would make a more dynamic leader than incumbent Mayor James K. Hahn. Hertzberg and Villaraigosa offer Los Angeles a clear choice in both style and substance. A face-off between the two would prod Los Angeles to really think about what it wants of its mayor and of itself....

If Hertzberg is analytical, quick to rattle off the names of five big-city mayors he admires or to hand out thick copies of the borough plan he drafted to head off secession, Villaraigosa is intuitive quick at reading situations and people. He is the anti-wonk who operates from the gut.

The ideal candidate would be one that combined the best traits of each. And in fact, Villaraigosa and Hertzberg made an ideal team in Sacramento, balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses, until they had a falling-out during the transition between their speakerships.

Los Angeles can't have both as mayor. The next best thing is to have the chance to decide between the two.

No real surprise here. I believe the Times endorsed Hahn just once in his six previous elections, and only in a race where he was unopposed. The paper's editorial board usually eschewed his father Kenneth too. In the current race, the next independent poll (if there is another before March 8) should be real interesting.

Also: My piece on the lost promise of the Parks campaign runs in the March issue of Los Angeles magazine. The vagaries of magazine deadlines dictated it be written more than a month ago and it feels a bit dated. The issue is now at newstands; hard to say when or if the piece will be on the magazine's website, but it will be on mine eventually.

Previously: Daily News endorses Hertzberg

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