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Campaign of long-shot city attorney candidate Greg Smith gathers steam

The campaign of private lawyer Greg Smith, a dark-horse candidate for Los Angeles city attorney, has been picking up steam in recent days, with some potentially important endorsements and a fresh infusion of cash to continue broadcast ads as the March 5 primary nears.

Smith, attempting his first bid for elected office, has made millions of dollars during a 25-year career representing police officers and firefighters in discrimination and whistle-blower lawsuits against their local-government employers. But in this campaign, he has struggled against better known candidates, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and former state and local lawmaker Mike Feuer.

Smith has spent a lot of his money on television ads, hoping to make voters aware of him. This week, he said he is adding an additional $200,000 to his campaign kitty, which would bring his personal financial investment in the effort to $820,000.

The money will help Smith to stay on television and to also keep airing a radio ad that started over the weekend, campaign strategist John Thomas said Monday. "Our campaign is committed to making sure that voters know they have a real choice in this election," he said.

The campaign also had been picking up some notable endorsements lately, including organizations representing such law enforcement groups as the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn. and, on Monday, the Peace Officer Research Assn. of California (PORAC). Both groups backed Trutanich when he first ran for -- and won -- the city attorney's office, in 2009.

The Los Angeles News Group, which includes the San Fernando Valley-based Daily News of Los Angeles and the South Bay-based Daily Breeze, also endorsed Smith over the weekend.

Trutanich, a veteran Los Angeles County district attorney prosecutor before heading his own private law firm prior to running, has been slamming Feuer for his lack of courtroom experience. Feuer headed a legal aid organization before his election to the Los Angeles City Council and, later, to the state Assembly. Feuer said his broad experience makes him far better suited for the city’s top legal job than either of the other two candidates.

Feuer and Trutanich have increasingly rained blows on each other, but the Feuer campaign recently has begun taking shots at Smith as well, in a mailer and in a radio ad that also attacks Trutanich. The Smith campaign sees that as a sign Feuer is taking the long-shot candidate seriously.

Dave Jacobson, a Feuer campaign spokesman, in a statement issued Monday, called Smith and Trutanich "two of a kind, peas in a pod, who have both been relentlessly and falsely attacking Mike."

Trutanich strategist Rick Taylor said the city attorney's campaign would Monday launch a TV ad campaign that would be "a game changer."

The three combatants were scheduled to appear at a radio debate on KCRW-FM (89.9) Monday afternoon. A fourth candidate on the ballot, private attorney Noel Weiss, was not included, the station said. Weiss has so far spent nothing on his campaign and is generally not viewed as a viable candidate.

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-- Jean Merl

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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