Campaign 2013

Campaign weekend: Waffles, tacos and churches


The candidates for mayor kicked into high gear for the final weekend of campaigning, even if the media wasn't paying much attention. Among the two front-runners, Wendy Greuel got out the earliest on Sunday, visiting churches in Culver City and the Crenshaw area before walking precincts in Pacoima with City Council candidate Felipe Fuentes. She then dropped in at Guisados Tacos on Cesar Chavez in Boyle Heights and shared a late lunch with her son Thomas, his friend Mateo and Councilman Jose Huizar. The other front-runner, Eric Garcetti, attended services or met worshippers at seven churches south of the 10 freeway, then took his lunch break at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles on Pico in Mid-City. Later in the day Garcetti also headed to the Eastside to greet supporters outside KGB Studios on North Spring then visit the campaign's Eagle Rock headquarters.

A few TV cameras and print reporters showed up at events on Sunday, unlike on Saturday. In a full day of campaigning on Saturday, which began at Little League openers for both candidates, Garcetti saw not a single TV crew and Greuel just one, and by late afternoon Sunday she couldn't recall just where she had seen it or what she said. That's to be excused, I guess: Greuel's last stop of Saturday was the always crowded late-night cookie line at Diddy Riese in Westwood, and her first event on Sunday was scheduled for 6:30 a.m. at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City.

garcetti-hybrid-kgb.jpgI first joined the Sunday campaign trail outside Roscoe's, where a man who calls himself the snake man of Hollywood Boulevard waited on the sidewalk with a python in one sack and another exotic snake in the other hand. He was just there to meet a friend, he said, and wasn't too interested in the race for mayor. He was more intrigued by the multiple digital cameras that LA Times shooter Liz Baylen carried. Many patrons were excited to see the candidate appear, but none probably more than a kid who gave his name as Faison who staked out a strategic spot, waited patiently, and sold Garcetti a Twix bar and a Reese's bar for $5. Garcetti arrived from his morning round of black church visits in a small caravan of black SUVs with darkened windows, but by the time he arrived in Lincoln Heights about 3:30 p.m. he was back in his more typical hybrid vehicle

greuel-huizar-guisados.jpgOut in the Valley, Greuel gave a pep talk to volunteers at the Felipe Fuentes for City Council headquarters on Osborne Street at Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Pacoima. Greuel, Fuentes, state assemblyman Raul Bocanegra and school board member Nury Martinez then headed out to knock on doors and meet voters on Bromwich Street. What stood out in the Pacoima neighborhood, other than the row after row of neat yards that exemplify so much of the Valley flats, was the single street light at Haddon Avenue and Correnti Street. I guess that's the one corner that is lit up at night. An hour later, Greuel was sitting at Guisados and talking politics with Huizar while a couple of LAPD officers in uniform hung out on the sidewalk.

A USC-LA Times poll published Sunday found that Garcetti (27 percent) and Greuel (25 percent) are essentially tied in the race, with Kevin James (15 percent) and Jan Perry (14 percent) trailing and at risk of not surviving Tuesday's vote to get in the runoff. Those are not impressive numbers for anybody, and Times political writer Michael Finnegan wrote that the striking note the poll found is that the voters' support is soft: 46 percent said they might change their mind before Tuesday. From Finnegan:

The survey showed that none of the major candidates has cultivated deep support among any of the big voter groups that can swing Los Angeles elections. (James has sparked enthusiasm among Republicans and conservatives, but those groups are too small by themselves to push a candidate to victory.)

The voters' tentative embrace of the Democrats in the race makes the election climate highly volatile....Adding to the unpredictability is a new burst of TV and radio attack ads that could trigger late shifts in public opinion.

Despite months of campaigning and millions of dollars spent, poll director Dan Schnur said, no one has yet captivated voters the way incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa did when he sought to become the first Latino mayor of modern Los Angeles or Richard Riordan did as a business-oriented outsider in the aftermath of the 1992 riots.

"Voters don't appear to have very strong feelings about anyone who's running or anything they're talking about," said Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh School of Politics at USC.

The poll found that Latinos favored Garcetti over Greuel by 37 to 19 percent, but that means "close to a third of Latinos said they preferred other candidates, including Perry, 12 percent, and [Emanuel] Pleitez, 11 percent." The poll sample was too small to break out meaningful numbers on black or Asian voters. Greuel was running stronger in the Valley, Garcetti on the Eastside and the central areas like Echo Park and Silver Lake that he has represented on the city council. Finnegan said there was evidence in the poll that, so far, Greuel's pitch to make her the first female mayor — a pitch she repeated this afternoon to volunteers in Pacoima — has not connected. She and Garcetti were getting about equal support from women, though if they are in the runoff after Tuesday the women who said they prefer Perry will be back in play.

Overall, voter turnout by mail and at the polls on Tuesday is expected to be lower than in other recent mayoral primaries. That could lead to a surprise in the race for city attorney, where incumbent Carmen Trutanich is fighting for his political life against well-funded challengers Mike Feuer and Greg Smith. The USC-Times poll found that Trutanich may not make the runoff. In the race for controller, Dennis Zine, until now the city councilman for the West Valley, is up against spirited competition from Ron Galperin and Cary Brazeman.

Also from the weekend
  • Greuel explains her vision on "News Conference" with Conan Nolan. NBC4
  • Los Angeles mayoral candidates mount final voter outreach efforts before Tuesday election. DN/Abram
  • LA mayor race heats up as primary approaches. ABC7
  • Kevin James' TV ad hammering Greuel and Garcetti turned off more voters than it won over. LAT/Rainey
  • Greuel had dinner with union boss; rival mayoral candidate alleges illegal coordination. LA Weekly/Maddaus
  • Candidates for mayor take different tacks on education. LAT/Mehta
  • Candidates crisscross city in final push before votes. (Saturday) LAT/Reston and Rainey
  • Election 2013: Redefining Los Angeles. DN/Orlov and Smith
  • Mayoral candidates square off in last debate before Tuesday's election. DN/Smith
  • Outside cash prominent in L.A. school board races. LAT/Blume
  • Other races make 2013 a year of possible change. DN/Orlov
  • Rocking the vote in Koreatown. LAT/Lopez column
  • LA's past mayors: a cast of characters. LAT/Morrison column
  • In LAUSD board race, enough with "insiders" vs. "outsiders." DN op-ed/Marlene Canter and Yolie Flores

LA Observed photos. Click on any photo to enlarge

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Campaign 2013 stories on LA Observed:
Shallman and Carrick on 'Which Way, LA?' tonight
Greuel consultant blames the LA Times
Morning Buzz: Friday 5.24.13
Campaign 2013 photo gallery by Gary Leonard
Election post-mortem in quotes (some very pointed)
Losers in the mayoral race: Latino leaders?
Yaroslavsky: No regrets and some advice for the next mayor
Garcetti thanks Greuel and LA, says election was 'never for sale'