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Union endorsements flow in race for vacant L.A. City Council seat

November 22, 2011 |  4:17 pm

Los Angeles City Council candidate Warren Furutani makes phone calls to voters in frenetic Pile Drivers Union office in Wilmington. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times The powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor announced Tuesday it has endorsed Assemblyman Warren Furutani in the Jan. 17 race to replace Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, calling the candidate “an experienced and effective fighter” for working families.

Representing more than 800,000 workers, the group bills itself as the second-largest central labor body in the nation.

Furutani’s opponent, police officer Joe Buscaino, countered that he had just picked up the endorsement of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, which has 3,500 members. With that support comes the backing of Pat McOsker, the firefighters’ union president who ran for Hahn’s council seat in the Nov. 8 council primary election but failed to make the runoff.

“We’re proud to be with Joe,” McOsker said. “We think he’ll be a great representative of the 15th Council District,” which covers San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Watts.

Furutani’s campaign said the endorsement from the Federation of Labor set the stage for a “showdown with downtown big business interests,” since Buscaino recently received the backing of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

In reality, the labor federation works in synch with downtown business interests on a frequent basis, pushing for approval of such projects as the L.A. Live entertainment complex, reconstruction of the Wilshire Grand Hotel and a new NFL football stadium next to the convention center. Chamber President and Chief Executive Gary Toebben said he is also working with Maria Elena Durazo, the head of the county fed, to win approval of a new rail yard in the 15th District, which Furutani and Buscaino are both seeking to represent.

“The 15th District is a very important district when it comes to job creation, because of the Port of Los Angeles,” Toebben said.

The federation has a track record of waging independent expenditure campaigns on behalf of candidates, pouring money into advertising and sending volunteers to get out the vote.

Furutani, who lives in Harbor Gateway, has the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and an array of state and local lawmakers. Buscaino, who lives in San Pedro, has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the rank-and-file officers’ union, and two other opponents in the Nov. 8 council primary -– businessman Jayme Wilson and political aide Gordon Teuber.

Some union organizations -– including the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Southern California District Council -– have issued dual endorsements of Furutani and Buscaino.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles City Council candidate Warren Furutani makes phone calls to voters in frenetic Pile Drivers Union office in Wilmington. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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