Rematch *


Alarcon 3.59%
99.19% of precincts
Latest results from City Clerk
Unless there's an unexpected change, it's Antonio Villaraigosa versus Jim Hahn in the May 17 general election for mayor. Just like it was coming out of the primary in 2001. Villaraigosa has a tad more percentage points, Hahn a tad fewer, but Runoff '05 is pretty close to a repeat. (Last time, the split at the start of Round Two was Villaraigosa 30.4%, Hahn 25.1%.) This time, the LAT exit poll finds that Villaraigosa has added support among whites, African Americans and Valley voters. He also enjoys a higher positive rating. But remember, he lost pretty handily last time in the runoff when Hahn recovered to get 53.5%. The Times analysis by Matea Gold says:

In the runoff, Villaraigosa is confronted with the challenge he faced in 2001: piecing together a multiethnic coalition in the tradition of the late Mayor Tom Bradley, the city's first black mayor, who won office in 1973 with the backing of African Americans, liberal voters and Jews, along with a narrow majority of Latinos.

Pulling together such disparate groups is a difficult task. If he seeks to energize Latinos about the prospect of a historic first, Villaraigosa could alarm other voters who are wary of the group's growing political clout, analysts said. But shying away from the ethnic pride associated with his bid could deflate excitement among that important constituency.

"It's a hard balance for any group that hasn't yet sat in the mayor's office," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton who consulted on The Times' exit poll. "It usually involves a sense of change in a city, and for every person who thinks that change is a great thing, there's another person who regrets that the old days are gone."

Another factor will be just how weakened Hahn is by the battering he has taken so far in the campaign. He narrowly escaped being the first mayor to lose in the primary since Fletcher Bowron, but his baggage is heavy. Still, his party was crowded and upbeat, and attended by supporters such as councilmen Eric Garcetti, Tom LaBonge and Greig Smith and police commissioner Alan Skobin. The latter two are from the West Valley, where the more conservative homeowners are supposedly disenchanted the most with the mayor. But are they going to vote for a liberal like Villaraigosa? Not likely. Expect to see some flow back to Hahn, who's already supported by Skobin's boss, Galpin Motors chief Bert Boeckmann, and by ex-congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler. Watch too how the Daily News handles this. The paper's top editors made Hahn a target as soon as he began campaigning against secession, clearly pushed Hertzberg as torch bearer for the Valley, and seemed confident Hahn was toast in the primary. Now what?

Then there's the question of what the losers do now. Will Hertzberg, who crept within 5,800 votes after 3 a.m., want a recount? [* No. He conceded Wednesday morning.] He guffawed at Hahn on KFI Tuesday and called him "a mayor without a pulse," so there's not much chance of an endorsement there. If he backs Villaraigosa, a natural ally politically, can Hertzberg actually deliver any of the Valley? Secession got 50,000 more votes in the Valley than he did. Parks seems certain to endorse Villaraigosa, which should cut into the black vote Hahn got last time. Alarcon endorsed Villaraigosa in 2001. Re-dividing of the pie begins today.

Low cloud cover grounded the helicopters and slowed the vote count, so none of the morning papers carry significant results. Here's the roundup:
— Times news story, party sidebar, Steve Lopez (best line: "The city is one big delicatessen to Hertzberg").
— Daily News leader, Hahn sidebar
— Daily Breeze mainbar

Also: The total vote was off by more than 100,000 compared to last time. That's a 20% dip.

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