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Richard Riordan endorses Kevin James in L.A. mayor's race

February 15, 2013 | 11:25 am

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Kevin James speaks at a debate in Sept. 2012.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan endorsed Kevin James in the mayor's race Friday, a major coup for the dark horse Republican candidate who is seeking to capture conservative votes.

Riordan, who is one of the most prominent Republican leaders in Los Angeles, praised James as the only candidate who isn't beholden to labor unions. Riordan has warned repeatedly that the city could face bankruptcy if it doesn't rein in its employee costs, a claim that some mayoral candidates, including City Councilman Eric Garcetti, have dismissed as overblown.

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James has used Riordan's favorable quotes in his campaign literature but until now had not secured Riordan's official support.

Riordan said he waited because he wasn't sure at first whether James had a shot at advancing beyond the March 5 primary election. But the former mayor said James now has a chance of getting into the runoff because "people are picking up that he is much more independent than the others."

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

"He’s the only one who is truly independent of the special interest groups, especially the unions," said Riordan, who served as mayor from 1993 to 2001. "The others can't possibly run our city well because they can't make major pension changes. They are owned by the unions."

Riordan said he would donate to James' campaign but not to the "super PAC" formed by Republican media strategist Fred Davis, which aims to spend millions of dollars to elect James.

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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

twitter.com/katelinthicum

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidate Kevin James speaks at a debate in September 2012. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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