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Dark horse L.A. city attorney candidate Greg Smith launches TV ads

Greg Smith, a little known candidate vying to be Los Angeles' next city attorney, became the first contender to take his campaign to TV airwaves.

Smith's ad will begin airing Monday night on broadcast stations in Los Angeles, and will continue through the March 5 primary election, said Smith campaign consultant John Thomas.  As for the cost, which would be considerable in L.A.'s massive media market, Thomas would say only that the campaign expects to spend "in the high seven figures."

Smith, a first-time candidate, is a private attorney who has won millions representing area police officers and firefighters in discrimination, injury and whistleblower suits against their local government employers. He is one of three challengers to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and has put at least $620,000 of his own money into his campaign, giving him funds for television ad buys and other means of introducing himself to voters.

Most observers expect the race to come down to a May 21 runoff between Trutanich and Mike Feuer, a former city councilman and former Assemblyman who has raised the most money so far and has racked up scores of endorsements from local officials and politically active individuals. Also on the ballot is private attorney Noel Weiss, who has reported raising and spending no money to date.

The money that Smith is spending on his campaign makes him something of a wild card.

His television ad consists of brief appearances from four public safety workers he has represented, repeating the theme, "Greg Smith fought for me." Smith also appears, saying he has "spent my entire career fighting corruption and discrimination."

While the public safety workers appearing in the ad are real, the uniforms, badges and even the patrol car are rented movie props, Thomas said.  He sought to avoid the controversy that erupted in Trutanich's campaign for district attorney last year, when Sheriff Lee Baca broke a state law by appearing in uniform to back the city attorney. Baca later apologized.

Both frontrunners' campaigns knocked the ad.

Feuer campaign spokesman Dave Jacobson said it "should be called 'How Greg Smith got rich suing L.A. taxpayers'. ... L.A. needs a city attorney who will protect the city treasury, not raid it for personal gain."

Trutanich consultant Rick Taylor said Smith "fought for four people against 4 million Angelenos. When he fights, he fights L.A."

Neither Feuer nor Trutanich has begun TV advertising, although both campaigns said they expect to. They provided no further details.

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-- Jean Merl

 
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