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Calm Before the Storm

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What’s that? We’re already having stormy weather? Friends, LAist cheerily disagrees–in the mayoral race, the waters are still. The campaign has begun, as the candidates spend on commercials and mailers, but you haven’t seen half of what’s in the pipeline.

Perhaps you’ve seen several of the candidates’ TV ads by now. Note that everything’s positive! Hahn runs on hiring Chief Bratton and beating secession (we think he mentions Bratton in the first 3 seconds of the ad). The actual ad is terrible. Carrick’s trying to make Hahn look both assertive and inclusive by walking quickly and gathering people around him as he trumpets his accomplishments, but Hahn’s moving so fast he looks like he’s fleeing South LA activists angry about the LAPD.

Meanwhile, Villaraigosa’s ad touts his trajectory from poor son to gangbanger to CD14 councilmember (and a few steps in between). Though it tries to inspire, it’s really rather dull to the insider’s eye, though we know that its only purpose is to remind voters that Villaraigosa exists, and he’s back. Essentially, he’s reintroducing himself to the general public. The Villaraigosa camp knows that he’s in the runoff no matter what, so they’re saving their heavy ammunition for the general election.

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As you educated readers may know, the Times endorsed Hertzberg and Villaraigosa yesterday in the primary. Naturally, this is a huge coup for Hertzberg, as it only serves to increase his positive name recognition, just what he needs to make the runoff. Coupled with the Daily News endorsement (the LAT and DN endorsing the same candidate??) Hertzberg's on a roll, reminiscent of Villaraigosa in 2001. In fact, one might even say that their strategy thus far has been to build the kind of "magic" and "momentum" leading to the primary election that Villaraigosa had the last time around... except with West Valley Republicans and businessmen instead of labor unions and Latinos. Same difference, right?

In addition, though denied by Parke Skelton (Villaraigosa's consultant), someone somewhere (this is unfortunately the nature of political rumor-mongering) says that Villaraigosa's latest polls show Hertzberg ahead of Hahn, 25% to 20%. Even if those polls aren't accurate, Kerman Maddox, a South LA consultant unaffiliated with any of the candidates, has said that Hertzberg has pulled even with Hahn.

So what's the point of all this? Hertzberg has the momentum and is running 2nd. The campaign's been positive so far. Don't expect that to continue. Hahn doesn't have to worry about name recognition; he has about 20% of the vote in the bank. He also has about $1.5 million to spend on pure negative media buys. This is a recipe for a political attack of biblical proportions. In the last few days of the campaign-basically, the first week of March-Hahn will hit Hertzberg so fast and so hard with negative ads that the Hertzberg team won't know what hit them (actually, they will know, but they can't do anything about it). Poor Bob. He won't be able to run for any elective office after Carrick's dogs are through with him.