Two of the most important endorsements in L.A.'s mayoral runoff are expected this week or next.
Defeated candidates Bob Hertzberg and Bernard Parks, who could deliver critical blocks of voters to their favored candidate, have been courted vigorously by Mayor James Hahn and challenger Antonio Villaraigosa. People close to both camps expect Hertzberg and Parks to endorse soon, and the expectation is that both will endorse Villaraigosa.
Hertzberg met separately with Villaraigosa and Hahn in two highly publicized sessions at Art's Deli in Studio City last month. One Hertzberg confidante last week said they were expecting him to make an announcement in the next week or two.
Hertzberg's constituency of conservative-leaning San Fernando Valley voters largely overlaps with that of Hahn's traditional bases. But during the campaign, Hertzberg made no secret of his disdain for Hahn's leadership style.
Villaraigosa won a number of East Valley precincts in the primary; a Hertzberg endorsement could deliver a complementary block of West San Fernando Valley voters.
A Hertzberg endorsement would also mean that his strained relationship with Villaraigosa, a former roommate and political ally when both were in Sacramento, would be mended for the purposes of the campaign. During the mayoral primary, Hertzberg and Villaraigosa were civil toward each other as they both aimed their fire at Hahn.
Meanwhile, Parks met both candidates late last month in his South L.A. council district, according to his spokesman Bernard Parks Jr., who said that the councilman would likely make his endorsement this week.
Given the longstanding friction between the mayor and the former police chief it was Hahn who three years ago decided he would not support Parks' reappointment as chief almost no one believes Parks would endorse Hahn.
More liberal-leaning black officials, including U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, have endorsed Villaraigosa already as has another defeated mayoral candidate, Richard Alarc & #243;n. A Parks endorsement for Villaraigosa would further erode a constituency that Hahn has counted on.
If both endorsements flow toward Villaraigosa, it would further add to the momentum that the city councilman and former Assembly speaker has built since scoring the highest vote tally in the primary, nearly 10 points ahead of Hahn.
Such was the case four years ago, when Villaraigosa won virtually every endorsement most notably from then-Mayor Richard Riordan. In the end, Hahn won out after launching an attack ad exposing Villaraigosa's support for a presidential pardon of a convicted drug dealer. Villaraigosa lost the runoff by seven points.
In last week's first debate between Hahn and Villaraigosa, economic development and the city's business climate received barely a mention. Instead, the questioners focused their attention on education and illegal immigration, while the candidates took every opportunity to attack each other on issues of trust and integrity.
Little change is expected during the remaining six weeks of the campaign, if the debate schedules put out by the Hahn and Villaraigosa camps are any indication.
Hahn's camp has proposed eight more debates; only one of those would be sponsored by a business group: the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.
Villaraigosa has not yet agreed to this debate. His camp has only agreed to three more: one sponsored by the Los Angeles Sentinel and KJLH-FM (102.3), another by KABC-TV (Channel 7) and the League of Women Voters and the last by Univision and La Opini & #243;n.
Even if Villaraigosa agrees to more debates, it's unlikely that business issues would receive significant attention. That's because the two candidates are largely in agreement on the major issues confronting the city.
"There aren't a lot of policy differences between us. The biggest difference is the issue of leadership," Villaraigosa said in a press conference following the first debate.
The tone of the runoff campaign for L.A. City Council's open 11th District seat has grown increasingly vitriolic.
Former cable television executive and talk show host Bill Rosendahl has charged that community activist Flora Gil Krisiloff is spreading lies about him, while Krisiloff's campaign is defending her characterization of him as a lobbyist for Adelphia Communications Corp.
The two are locked in a runoff for the seat that is being vacated by termed-out Cindy Miscikowski.
On his Web site, Rosendahl challenged Krisiloff's statements that he was a lobbyist for now-bankrupt Adelphia, and comments she allegedly made in private about his sexual orientation (he is openly gay.)
"Flora Gil Krisiloff has been saying some pretty outrageous things about Bill," states a posting on his Web site, illustrated with a cartoon captioned: "Rosendahl Kidnaps Elvis!"
Krisiloff campaign manager Rick Taylor last week maintained that Rosendahl was indeed a lobbyist for Adelphia.
(As the top Adelphia executive in L.A., Rosendahl was not a registered lobbyist, though he did represent Adelphia in the community and on occasion at City Hall until he departed late last year.)
Taylor also denied that Krisiloff was anti-gay.
"He should apologize to her for his comments about her anti-gay bias," Taylor said. "He should be ashamed of himself about this. Krisiloff is well aware of the dangers of discrimination and she would never discriminate against anyone."
Last week, each received endorsements: Rosendahl won the nod of third-place finisher and Westchester attorney Angela Reddock, who received 14 percent of the primary vote. Krisiloff received the endorsement of L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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