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Greuel makes play for African American voters in L.A. mayor's race

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel made a play for African American voters Saturday, rolling out a list of endorsements from black leaders and invoking the memory of Mayor Tom Bradley at the opening of her campaign office on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Greuel, who worked for 10 years as an aide to Bradley early in her career, pledged to carry on the legacy of the city's first black mayor and to bring economic equity to struggling South L.A. neighborhoods.

Choking back tears, she described Bradley as the person "who taught me to fight for justice, who taught me that you should use your voice in a way that lets all boats rise, who taught me that you can be and should be a mayor for all of Los Angeles."

Greuel's event coincided with the opening of one of her opponent's campaign headquarters about 10 minutes away. There, several high-profile backers of City Councilwoman Jan Perry, including Rep. Maxine Waters and Councilman Bernard C. Parks, urged voters to volunteer and donate to Perry's campaign.

Greuel political consultant Rose Kapolczynski said Perry "has the natural support of African Americans." But, she said: "We want to be their second choice." That position could translate into significant support for Greuel in the runoff if Greuel makes the cut but Perry doesn't, Kapolczynski said.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles, who is part of the African Americans with Wendy group announced by the campaign Saturday, said Greuel won't have to work to make inroads in the black community. "She already has the roads in," Hogan-Rowles said. "She has friendships here. She visits the churches when she's not campaigning, and she stays for the whole service."

Hogan-Rowles, who runs a nonprofit that offers micro-loans, and who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Parks in 2011, said she met Greuel in the 1990s, when Greuel was an official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Greuel, she said, helped her program and others that do work in the black community find federal funding.

The new campaign office is in a strip mall just south of Leimert Park, in the same storefront used by Barack Obama supporters during both of his presidential campaigns.

Before she spoke, Greuel was introduced by several black leaders, including the Rev. Clyde Oden Jr., the senior pastor of Bryant Temple AME church, who led a blessing. "We need more love and more joy and more jobs and more safety," Oden prayed, as 100 or so supporters bowed their heads. "We believe, dear God, that Wendy is a vessel for those things."

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-- Kate Linthicum

twitter.com/katelinthicum

 
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