As the mayoral candidates crossed the two-month mark until the runoff election, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti are struggling with a bit of a paradox -- the two long-time, pro-labor Democrats are jockeying over which of them is more likely to stand up to city-employee union demands.
Both candidates have labor backing, but the most influential and deep-pocketed unions have thrown their support behind Greuel. That has resulted in a political dynamic few expected -- Greuel has emerged as the de facto labor candidate while Garcetti has been painted as a union nemesis.
Greuel has been forced on the defense as some of her business backers grew uncomfortable with recent statements she made about city employee retirement benefits. On Thursday, Greuel responded to questions from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, affirming her support for making new cuts in pension costs and assuring them that she has no interest in challenging any of the reductions in benefits that have already been approved.
Garcetti and Greuel appeared together Thursday night for the first time since winning runoff spots in the March 5 primary. A swanky benefit for diabetes research at the Beverly Hilton was billed as a roast of Councilman Tom LaBonge, but most eyes were focused on the mayoral candidates. Greuel and Garcetti poked barbs at each other while they poked fun at themselves.
Meanwhile, fund-raising continues to take up large quantities of the candidates’ time as they try to replenish coffers drained by their testy primary.
Garcetti is on an East Coast fund-raising swing. Tonight, he is collecting checks at a reception at the New York City home of Hilary and Peter Hatch. Garcetti’s connection with the hosts is deep -- the councilman officiated at the couple’s 2005 wedding. Peter Hatch formerly worked for presidential candidate John Edwards and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. On Saturday, Garcetti heads to Miami to raise more money.
While Greuel’s plans for the weekend haven't been disclosed, the candidate sent out a fund-raising plea to supporters Thursday that said, “Let’s make history – and then have a big group hug when we win on May 21.”
Meanwhile, in the city attorney’s race, incumbent Carmen Trutanich called on two companies to turn off more than 100 digital billboards, and opponent Mike Feuer accused him of seizing on the issue to play politics. Feuer has racked up many major endorsements in the race, but on Thursday, county Supervisor Gloria Molina bucked the trend by backing Trutanich.
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-- Seema Mehta
Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema
Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel speaks to supporters at election night gatherings. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times