After Mayor James K. Hahn and his challengers spent months personally lobbying Democratic committee members, the county Democratic Party has decided not to back any candidate for mayor of L.A. in the March 8 election, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Though the incumbent Democrat failed to rally his own party behind his reelection, the decision also was a major setback for his top rival, City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, who the party backed for mayor in 2001, the paper said.

Villaraigosa won a majority of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee's 193 votes, but came up short of the 60 percent required to gain the endorsement. On the last of two ballots, Villaraigosa won 97 votes and Hahn 81, with 15 members voting not to endorse.

A party endorsement could have provided financial support to either candidate. Despite the vote, the party still might back a candidate in the mayoral runoff election in May, if one occurs, the Times reported.

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