Times Poll: Villaraigosa by 11

The front runner's lead has shrunk from 18 points a month ago to 11 points now, but the latest (and probably final) L.A. Times Poll found Antonio Villaraigosa still with a fairly comfortable edge. Certainly better than in 2001: at this point four years ago, Jim Hahn led in the LAT Poll by seven points, and won by that margin. This time around, the poll found that 62% of voters think favorably of Villaraigosa, compared to 46% for Hahn; 55% see Villaraigosa as a strong leader, only 36% think so of Hahn; 68% said Villaraigosa's personality is "well-suited for the job of mayor," compared to 45% who say that about Hahn. The poll found that Hahn's ads have cut into Villaraigosa's support in nearly all categories — the mayor now leads among white likely voters and the black vote is very nearly split. Those muddy Florida contributions that undermined Villaraigosa's strategy of ethical superiority, and Hahn's attack on the ACLU connection, have hurt. But Villaraigosa gets 3 in 4 Latino voters, and the poll found him "heavily favored by Democrats, liberals, moderates, younger voters and residents of a broad swath of central Los Angeles, from Hollywood through downtown to Boyle Heights. The former state Assembly speaker also holds an edge among Jewish voters and Westside residents."

Hahn's surge means he now leads among those who voted in the primary for Bob Hertzberg or Bernard Parks. Both losing candidates endorsed Villaraigosa, but their backing isn't translating (so far) into votes. The poll was in the field from May 2 to yesterday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points. Questions and data should be available here later.

Also: The Times rolls out a 2,800-word, three-byline piece detailing how Nick Tonsich, a 43-year-old Friend of Hahn, has benefitted financially since the mayor appointed him to the harbor commission. The bullet points:

Tonsich's law firm has earned $1.254 million from no-bid contracts from the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, a public agency whose legal contracting work was overseen by a Hahn appointee.
Tonsich's firm was one of 25 approved to handle police misconduct cases by the city attorney's office when Hahn headed that office. All the others had substantial experience defending public agencies. Tonsich's firm cited just one case on its application.
After Tonsich was appointed to the harbor post, a lobbyist who is also a Hahn fundraiser paid Tonsich's firm at least $10,000 in 2003. The lobbyist and Tonsich say they can't recall what work Tonsich did.
Last year, Tonsich set up a company to sell emissions-control technology for cargo ships, putting himself in position to profit from a market he helped create with his decisions about air quality at the port.

That lobbyist, by the way, is Clark Davis, whose name came up in the Florida controversy over Villaraigosa's fundraising — and who earlier testified in the pay-to-pay investigations. Tonsich, says the Times, is "proud of his service, citing the port's high bond rating and its spending on security and environmental mitigation. He said neither Hahn nor his administration had ever helped him get business." Also, gifts to Tonsich are a subject in the Daily Breeze.

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