The Rose Institute’s April 24 panel on the L.A. mayoral race came at a crucial time. Absentee voting has begun for the May 21 run-off election between Democrats Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, and the campaign is heating up to succeed Antonio Villaraigosa as leader of the nation’s second-largest city.
The lunchtime panel at the CMC Athenaeum featured Seema Mehta, political reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Clark Lee (CMC ’04), political director for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and Ray Remy (CMC ’59), former chief of staff to L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley.
The March 5 primary, which saw Garcetti win 33 percent of the vote and Greuel finish second with 29 percent, had a very low turnout (only 16 percent of registered voters). The panelists predicted that turnout for the run-off would remain low and, as a consequence, the race will likely go to the campaign that is best at mobilizing its supporters. Because the candidates are like-minded Democrats, they are struggling to differentiate themselves and are running on their resumes and endorsements. Both are also resorting to heavy attack advertisements.
Mr. Remy asserted that, unlike former mayor Bradley, neither candidate has presented a large, inspiring vision for the city. Instead, each is focusing on smaller issues, such as “smart streets” (Garcetti), and education (Greuel).
Mr. Lee said that the campaigns must reach out to extremely diverse audiences and, increasingly, are using social media to try to connect with voters.
Ms. Mehta suggested that Garcetti has led the race in part because Greuel had a “bullseye on her back in the primary,” but believed that his current 11-point lead in the polls will tighten at the end.
The panel was part of the Rose Institute Speaker Series, which brings prominent practitioners and scholars to campus to discuss elections, politics, and policy.