With the general election now a week away, former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Mike Feuer appear to have won the endorsement derby in their respective races for mayor and city attorney.

"Normally, endorsements have been important, but not absolutely crucial," said Raphe Sonenshein, political science professor at California State University, Fullerton and a longtime observer of the L.A. political scene. "But this election, especially in the mayor's race, endorsements count for a tremendous amount. You've got two liberal Democrats with similar views on most of the key issues, so they have to find something to distinguish themselves."

Villaraigosa, of course, snagged the endorsement of current Mayor Richard Riordan.

"That was the big prize, the endorsement that means the most in this race," Sonenshein said.

With that huge exception, the rest of the endorsements in the mayor's race have been split right down the middle between Villaraigosa and current City Attorney James Hahn.

Villaraigosa, who had previously pulled in endorsements from the County Federation of Labor and state Democratic Party, received more recent endorsements from prominent local politicians like county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina.

Hahn, who locked up the support of city employee unions in the primary, scored big by getting the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Police Protective League endorsements last month. He also has endorsements from Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, among others.

Interestingly, each candidate made slight inroads into the other's base of support. Hahn has support from three prominent Latinos: state Sen. Richard Polanco and L.A. City Council members Alex Padilla and Nick Pacheco. Villaraigosa, meanwhile, received endorsements from City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and a number of African-American ministers.

And where have the major business organizations gone with their endorsements? To no one's great surprise, the Central City Association and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce have both endorsed Hahn.

(Another major business group, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, does not endorse candidates.)

The endorsement picture is much more lopsided in the city attorney race, in favor of Feuer, who is battling Riordan's deputy mayor for economic development, Rocky Delgadillo.

"In that race, Mayor Riordan and two of his business world allies, Warren Christopher and Magic Johnson, have endorsed Rocky Delgadillo," Sonenshein said. "But virtually every other major endorsement has gone to Mike Feuer from the Police Protective League to the Democratic Party establishment to the L.A. City Attorneys Association."

The Central City Association and L.A. Area Chamber, though, did fall in line with Riordan and his business allies, endorsing Delgadillo.

Ironically, Sonenshein said, the endorsements may not mean as much in this race as they do in the mayor's race.

"This is an oddly disengaged and low-key race," he said. "I'm not sure endorsements are as important in a situation like this. More may depend on who turns out to vote in the mayoral election."

Miscikowski's Presidential Bid

In previous columns, Councilman Nick Pacheco and current L.A. City Council President Ruth Galanter outlined their platforms for the council president election to be held after the new L.A. City Council convenes in July. This time it's the turn of the third announced candidate for that post: Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.

Although she's just been re-elected to her second term on the council, Miscikowski's council history goes back much further: She was the longtime aide to former Councilman Marvin Braude, her predecessor in the 11th Council District. Miscikowski said last week that she plans to use that experience to her advantage.

"I want to bridge the gap between the old guard and the new guard on the council," Miscikowski said. "I've been on the council only four years, so I'm still sort of a newcomer and can sympathize with some of the concerns of newcomers. On the other hand, I've been around the council for much longer, so I have some sense of equality between the old members and the new members."

Just as important, Miscikowski said, she wants to forge a closer relationship between the council and mayoral staffs.

"When I was a staffer during the (Tom) Bradley administration, we had a lot more contact between the mayor's staff and the council staff than we do now. And that was crucial because talking to each other made it easier to get things done," she said.

Some of that contact was lost during the Riordan years, in part because Riordan and the council so frequently butted heads on everything from the living wage to police reform.

Miscikowski said that she also wants council staff members to forge closer relationships with the staffs of the city controller and city attorney. For the controller's staff, that should be little problem, since Controller-elect Laura Chick is a current council member. The same could hold true for city attorney if City Councilman Mike Feuer wins that race.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be contacted at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or at hfine@labusinessjournal.com.

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