L.A. Observed gives a nice overview of the latest from the L.A. Mayoral race, and, as anyone could've guessed, it's full of traditional, end-game fun as Bob Hertzberg - greenlighter of dozens of Hahn hit pieces, threatens to "hit back as hard" as he can should someone go negative on his huggable self. Cute.
I have nothing against Hertzberg, per se. I worked for the Speaker who followed him in Sacramento and it was a smooth, congenial transfer of power, as far as I could tell. The man does like his hugs - which would be creepy if he weren't so, um, cuddly, I guess. Maybe it is creepy. Nah, it's his thing. And he throws a nice party at convention each year.
The transition between Hertzberg and Villaraigosa was ugly, from what I understand. The rumors are that these former roomies are making nice - but should they both make it to the run-off - my advice would be to duck.
Continuing my biased, experienced based assessment of the candidates: Richard Alarcon was always quite nice to me at the Capitol - I remember him from his days on the L.A. City Council. From what I hear, there's no staff-chomping Shelleys in this group - which should be a good indication that the City will be in good shape regardless of who wins.
But experience matters. So does campaigning on issues over which you have some control (Bob, you're not running for school board - and look what happened to the last guy's efforts to muck with LAUSD. Something about a multimillion dollar cesspit of an uninhabitable campus, right?). I've never warmed to Antonio. I don't think he's ever come off well in any profile - too much moss in his background.
That leave Pedro homeboy and incumbent Jim Hahn. Remember, I was a Gray Davis fan - I think dull boys rock the ballot booth. One-on-one, the guy's great; stick him in front of a crowd, no so much. In fact, he'd be wise never again to appear in public without being followed by clean-up batter, sister Janice Hahn, who's swiftly developing, deftly applied wit plays well to big crowds. She's his greatest asset, and, unfortunately, the biggest loser if his public service career goes down in flames in a few weeks (she has the makings of a great Mayor, it seems).
Jim Hahn hasn't done much wrong - to which many respond, "well, he hasn't done much right either." Few officials actually accomplish all - or any - of the promises on which they campaigned. (WMD? What WMD? Peaceful Iraq, eh, sorta, whatevs). The PR demi-scandal doesn't seem to have blown up into an understandable issue for voters (granted, I have not seen many mailers, as they're collecting in Pedro and I'm in sunny - yeah, you heard me - San Francisco).
Hahn's paying the price for his sparkle-free personality. He suffers from a lack of star power in a star power hungry city. But that's the curse of L.A. politics. Name me one L.A. Mayor that has the national cache of a Guiliani, or even a Bloomberg. When's the last time any of our politicos hosted SNL? Not likely. Sam Yorty? Tom Bradley got us the Olympics - great for the City - but he didn't even make it to Sacramento, let alone the national nightly news. No, we have our own stars here - and they're mostly way west of Spring Street - which is fine with me.
So I'm sticking with Hahn. I don't trust the Valley guys enough - their inexperience and false - or even genuine - outsider-ness rings hollow with me. For L.A., for Pedro, for Phoblog - it's Hahn.
Update: For an interesting take on what Hertzberg meant by "negative," check out this L.A. Voice post. I don't think I agree with it - insofar as it relates to Hertzberg's intentions. I do think, though, that the bellyaching about "going negative" is foolish. Of course you go negative if you want to win. People tell pollsters they're against it, but if you could be in their heads in the voting booth, well, it's not such bad information then, is it. So take from that post what you will.