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L.A. Votes: Special interests spend millions, Greuel and James on the attack

Photo: Wendy Greuel and Kevin James at a mayoral debate at Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

Nearly $4 million in independent spending has poured into Los Angeles election campaigns in recent weeks. A Times analysis finds that more than three-quarters comes from groups tied to unions, and that, in addition to efforts on behalf of mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, a significant amount is being spent on City Council races as unions look to strengthen their influence at City Hall.Election Memo

Greuel’s time working for former Mayor Tom Bradley  is the latest in a series of Times’ profiles of turning points in the mayoral candidates’ lives. And the city controller released a radio attack ad against Eric Garcetti, the first candidate-sanctioned negative ad of the mayoral contest and a sign of how testy the race has become in the closing days.

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Garcetti, who spent Tuesday night campaigning with Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, has an interest in untapped oil and gas leases that could draw on controversial deposits beneath Beverly Hills High School. While the Garcetti property has not been used for slant drilling to access the reserves and currently pays the councilman a nominal $1.25 per year, such drilling could be handsomely profitable if it occurs.

Kevin James took aim at both Garcetti and Greuel in an eye-popping web video that shows look-alikes of the elected officials burying a body in a woody, shallow grave as a comparison to their work as elected officials. And Emanuel Pleitez will literally run across the city –- 100 miles over six days –- as part of an effort to promote his long shot bid.

As the last fund-raising period before the election closes at midnight Wednesday, the candidates are scrambling to raise money. James is the beneficiary of a fund-raiser Wednesday night by former Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, developer Ed Roski Jr., and Alana Stewart, the ex-wife of singer Rod Stewart. Greuel will pick up checks at the Hidden Hills home of film producer David Bergstein. And Garcetti will headline a fund-raiser at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station that features a panel on indie films. Only in L.A.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

In events open to the public, the candidates are taking part in an education forum Wednesday morning in downtown Los Angeles, and James is holding a press conference with County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

In non-mayoral contests, several races on the Tuesday ballot are increasingly heated.

The Los Angeles Unified School District trustees election has effectively become a referendum on Supt. John Deasy, with his supporters spending millions to make sure he remains the leader of the nation’s second-largest school district.

In the controller’s race, Cary Brazeman and Ron Galperin are accusing Councilman Dennis Zine of double dipping by receiving a police pension and a councilman’s salary. Zine, the favorite in the race, shot back that he had donated a significant amount of his pension to charity.

And Sen. Barbara Boxer weighed in on the city attorney’s race, joining other Democratic leaders in backing Mike Feuer against incumbent Carmen Trutanich.

ALSO:

Pedestrian killed while crossing Pacific Coast Highway

Debi Austin, featured in anti-smoking 'Voicebox' ad, dies

Sword-wielding suspect subdued by SWAT team in El Cajon

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema 

Photo: Wendy Greuel and Kevin James at a mayoral debate at Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 18. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

 
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