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Greuel, Garcetti lead fundraising efforts in L.A. mayor’s race

Kevin James

The independent group supporting the longshot candidacy of mayoral contender Kevin James received an infusion of half a million dollars from top GOP donor Harold Simmons, a Dallas-based billionaire who contributed more than $20 million to the super PACs that tried to defeat President Obama in 2012.

Full coverage: L.A. mayor's raceBut James, a Republican and former radio talk show host, is trailing far behind the top two candidates in the race: City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti.

In new filings Thursday night, Greuel edged Garcetti by collecting $130,644 to the $84,000 that he raised during the period between Jan. 1 and Jan. 19.

FULL COVERAGE: Los Angeles mayoral race

Still, Garcetti, who served as council president between 2006 and 2012, has an edge over Greuel in cash-on-hand with $3.55 million to Greuel’s $2.94 million with 5 1/2 weeks before the March 5 election.

In the new filings Greuel reported about $101,000 in unpaid bills to Garcetti’s $45,000. A key portion of Greuel’s spending over the past month was on slate mailings, which are aimed at high-propensity voters who can begin casting vote-by-mail ballots during the first week of February, and to the Washington, D.C.-based polling firm, Lake Research Partners.

The two candidates, who served together on the City Council, have remained remarkably even in their fundraising efforts, with each collecting more than $4 million, including city matching funds.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who represents downtown and South Los Angeles, collected about $16,000 during the first 19 days of this year. With city matching funds, she has raised more than $2 million and reported $1.2 million in cash on hand at the end of the filing period.

A fifth candidate, technology executive Emanuel Pleitez, reported that he has nearly $320,000 to spend before the March 5 primary.

James, who has raised more than $500,000 for his bid including matching funds, collected nearly $15,000 during the first part of this year and has about $49,000 left in his account. That means that his hopes of making the mayoral runoff will largely depend on spending by the outside group, Better Way L.A., which can collect unlimited donations to boost the candidacy of the former prosecutor.

Simmons is one of just two contributors to the pro-James super PAC, which was formed by Republican ad man Fred Davis. So far the group has raised $700,000, but Davis has said he hopes to raise $3.5 million to make James a presence on television before the primary.

During the 2012 election, Simmons; his wife, Annette; and his Contran Corp. donated $20.5 million to American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove and $2.3 million to a pro-Romney political action committee.

At a candidates’ forum on Thursday night sponsored by the League of Women Voters, James said he does not have a personal relationship with Simmons, but that the two met at a fundraiser for him last year.

The influence of the pro-James group may be checked by an outside group known as Working Californians, which has announced its intention to back Greuel. James and Greuel are competing for many of the same moderate and conservative voters in the San Fernando Valley, the area that Greuel represented as a councilwoman.

Consultants for Working Californians have said that entertainment industry executives and labor unions -- including the union that represents Los Angeles city utility workers -- are joining forces to provide the funding for the outside effort to help Greuel, who handled government relations at the DreamWorks movie studio before being elected to the City Council in 2002.

The group’s filings were not available Thursday night, but Working Californians is expected to raise at least $2 million, which could help boost Greuel’s profile on television in the final weeks of the race.

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-- Maeve Reston

Photo: Kevin James, left, at a fundraiser in December. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

 
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