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And So It Begins...

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And so it begins... Although the mayoral candidates have been jousting for position the last 6 months, the next five weeks that will determine who will become the next mayor. Brace yourselves for the onslaught of TV ads, mailers, and phone calls as the candidates will make a play for your support.

As a public service, LAist offers a primer on the top three candidates (Hahn, Villaraigosa, and Hertzberg), their experience, positions, and possible strategies going in. We'll deliver our take on the spoilers (Parks, Alarcon, and Moore) in future posts.

Mayor Jim Hahn

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LAist is incredulous that Hahn insists on running on his record. The main achievement he’s touting is hiring Chief Bratton, which has resulted in lower crime. He probably would also run on defeating secession, except for the fact that it would cost him the very San Fernando Valley voters he’ll need to make it to the runoff. One would think, based on the ethics scandals that have plagued the highest portions of the mayor’s office–especially Deputy Mayor Troy Edwards, who resigned under intense scrutiny–that he’ll be playing defense on the ethics issues. Among the cognoscenti, Hahn has a reputation for being a vicious campaigner. There's a reason why he's never lost a citywide election (out of a stunning 6 times): do you recall his mayoral election ads from 2001 featuring grainy images of handshakes, a crack pipe, and a letter from Villaraigosa asking for the release of a convicted drug dealer? Look for similar techniques this time around.

Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa

Villaraigosa lost the runoff in 2001 to Hahn, and is now back for a second try. His campaign has been rather enigmatic. Some say he’s lost his luster, lacks a strong, identifiable message, and just isn’t the out-of-nowhere shooting star he was in 2001. But despite the swirling rumors, we think he has simply laid low. He’s kept expenses down so far (some say by using City staff improperly), he has raised lots of money, and will probably blitz voters with highly targeted and slick messages. He’s a consummate politician and all that that term implies, good and bad.

Fmr. Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg

Hertzberg, formerly Speaker of the Assembly, is really visible to citywide voters for the first time. As opposed to Villaraigosa, he’s running on three crystal-clear planks: break up LAUSD, do something about traffic, and add more cops with no taxes. With these positions, he’s trying to establish himself as the outsider candidate in order to gain the support of Valley conservatives and rich Westsiders (though not the really liberal ones). He’s also been media-savvy, especially with respect to his Internet strategy. However, by taking this tack Hertzberg is going after Hahn’s base, the white Valley, and as such will be the target of Hahn’s attacks. Opponents will probably pound him for his past work with Fleishman-Hillard, the PR firm that defrauded the City out of thousands of dollars. In addition, Hahn will most likely target Hertzberg's Assembly record, when he presided over the state's energy crisis, and highlight his acceptance of past contributions from BFI, which runs the Valley-despised Sunshine Canyon landfill in Granada Hills.