LA mayor race heading for a runoff

posted at 11:21 am on March 6, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

No, the nation’s second-largest city doesn’t yet have a mayor, but at least they have narrowed the eventual successor to Antonio Villaraigosa down to two people.  The top two finishers will face each other in a May 21 runoff, which to no one’s great surprise will be an all-Democrat race to run the city.  However, the message may still be more Republican:

City Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel remained at ahead of the pack in the race for mayor of Los Angeles early Wednesday morning with all city precincts reporting.

The top-two finishers in Tuesday’s election, will face off in what is expected to be a bruising May 21 runoff. Only 16% of the city’s 1.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the election.

Standing on a stage lined with supporters Tuesday evening, Garcetti thanked the crowd for their help and said he’s ready to get to work on winning the runoff election in May. Garcetti held a slim margin over Greuel and a significant lead over the six other candidates in the mayoral race, returns showed.

The top office won’t be the only position for which a runoff is needed, either.  Both the controller and city attorney races will end close enough to require one more time around the track, too.  Angelenos will be very busy with elections for the next few months, spent on deciding which Democrats to run the city.

That seems odd, too, since Angelenos show little patience for a traditional Democratic policy — tax hikes.  The LA Times reports that one of the few clear outcomes of the race was a rejection of another increase in sales taxes within the city:

The vote for a measure to add a half-cent to the city’s sales tax appeared to lose by a wide margin, the vote tally showed. The increase, Proposition A, would bring sales taxes in Los Angeles to 9.5%, one of the highest rates in the state, and raise $200 million a year for the city treasury.

Reuters also points out that both Gruel and Garcetti ran on a lower-taxes platform:

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel looked set for a run-off vote after a Tuesday primary election, in a race that has seen the two Democrats vow to slash business taxes to help the city rebound from a persistent economic slump. …

Garcetti and Greuel oppose a proposed Villaraigosa-backed half-cent sales tax hike and have both called for cuts in business taxes to promote economic growth, even as the city scrimps to plug a budget hole set to top $1 billion over the next four years.

The commercial tax structure that Garcetti and Greuel vow to phase out is known as the gross receipts tax, and it varies by type of business. Internet-based companies, for instance, are taxed at $1 per $1,000 in receipts, while professional service firms pay $5 per $1,000.

Angelenos had the option of choosing a Republican, an option that might have emphasized their distaste for higher taxes.  Kevin James, a local radio personality, did relatively well for a political novice with a third-place finish and 16% of the vote in a city dominated by Democrats.  Still, voters made it clear that they want a Republican approach to taxes and regulation, even if they haven’t given a Republican a shot at running the place since Richard Riordan left in 2001.  That may at least get Los Angeles started on the path of much-needed reform, but we won’t know that for sure until well after May 21st.


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Is there a substitute for the real thing? I barely trust Republicans spouting the lower tax mantra, I’d have to call instant B.S. on a Democrat.

Cindy Munford on March 6, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Former Russian President Medvedev is still available.

Mr. Arrogant on March 6, 2013 at 11:25 AM

another sign, that a 3rd party will arise.

renalin on March 6, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Isn’t this the city that spent nearly 1 billion dollars on a high school…built an underground transit system across a fault line?

I don’t have much hope for that city, maybe a bit more than S.F…but not much.

right2bright on March 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I hope the Democrat light will be successful we need to stop the blue bleeding into the red states.

ChunkyLover on March 6, 2013 at 11:35 AM

It’s not half-cent tax increase, Ed. It’s half-percent. Please adjust the article.

Archivarix on March 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Interesting. I wonder if the “top two” primary system will have the effect of moderating some of the irredeemably Democrat city governments.

Count to 10 on March 6, 2013 at 11:43 AM

The top-two finishers in Tuesday’s election, will face off in what is expected to be a bruising May 21 runoff. Only 16% of the city’s 1.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the election.

…16%?…they need more ‘illegals’ to vote!…oh?…maybe, that is who turned out!

KOOLAID2 on March 6, 2013 at 11:49 AM

L. A. is irretrievably lost. The next mayor will preside over its bankruptcy filing which Villagaigosa was able to avoid by kicking the fiscal can down the road. Just another city the public employee unions have managed to destroy.

The piper will be paid.

skeneogden on March 6, 2013 at 12:01 PM

another sign, that a 3rd party will arise.

With the GOP looking more and more like Democrat Lites, one can only hope.

hawkeye54 on March 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Kevin James, a local radio personality, did relatively well for a political novice with a third-place finish and 16% of the vote in a city dominated by Democrats.

I am actually quite upset in this election result because this is one where some work could have swung this for the Republicans. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2:1 in LA County but voter turnout for this election was under 20%. In elections with very thin turnout, even a modest effort to get people to the polls can flip an election. It didn’t even have to be a high profile effort, it could have been a “stealth” effort. And you would figure with the California Republican Convention having just been held in the region last weekend, there would have been plenty of manpower around to help. It appears to me there wasn’t really much of an effort on the part of the state and LA County committees to actually get people to the polls on this.

It is exactly this kind of odd, off year election that we need to start concentrating on to get these Democrats pulled out of office at the local level. We need to start paying more attention to these local city and county elections. Maybe part of the problem was the Republican, Kevin James, was an openly gay candidate, I don’t know, but there doesn’t appear to have been any effort to get Republicans to the polls in an election where Democrats would not be voting heavily.

crosspatch on March 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM

It’s not half-cent tax increase, Ed. It’s half-percent. Please adjust the article.

Archivarix on March 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Those are essentially the same thing. For exapmle, most California counties have what is known as a “half-cent sales tax” for the purpose of funding transportation projects, which means a tax of $0.005 for every $1.00 spent.

steebo77 on March 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

I hate the idea of a separate, conservative party for minorities, but given their deep hatred of the GOP, I wonder if it’s not a possible solution for ending the Democrats’ dominance over this voting bloc. Single party rule serves no one, and minority-controlled cities, states, and districts suffer corruption for their self-imposed lack of choices. Someone wrote last week about how the CBC is the most corrupt caucus in Congress, and it’s because voters in black districts refuse to vote Republican. Furthermore, there are plenty of latinos, Asians, and blacks who want smaller government, but simply will not support the GOP brand. I don’t think that will change for at least a generation, so a new party may be their best chance at good governance, and our best chance at confounding the Democrats’ plan at dominating politics.

EricW on March 6, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Don’t ever listen to what a democrat candidate says, watch what they do when elected. It is always the same, tax more, spend more, corrupt more.

jukin3 on March 6, 2013 at 1:10 PM

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Khun Joe on March 6, 2013 at 1:43 PM

“..both of whom have their hands on the toilet handle, poised to flush upon their respective ascendency.”

The War Planner on March 6, 2013 at 1:48 PM

They are both liberal hacks. The unions have won again. I would guess they were largely the people who voted.

In other CA news, Jerry Brown has taken a page from Obama: Jerryphones to the Homeless!, cuz we are rich and the homeless and poor need to coordinate their social activies.

PattyJ on March 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Public employee union shills. Both of them.

nico on March 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM

as a resident of Texas, i hope they fix things well enough to keep their liberals from relocating here

burserker on March 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM

How can Eric and Wendy bring about any meaningful reform when they are captives of the very forces that have driven L.A. into the mess it currently faces:
The Public Employee Unions, and the Entitlement Movement and its Apparatchiks?

Bankruptcy is in the City’s future, and everyone knows it.

Will Jerry Brown have to appoint an administrator when the City files for Bankruptcy, and what Republican would take that job, and is any Democrat suicidal enough to consider it?

Another Drew on March 6, 2013 at 6:00 PM