LA City Election Wrap-Up
First of all, the turnout was indeed 15%, down from 28% for the primary just four years ago. That's mainly due to the top of the ticket, which was competitive last time around and featured just Antonio Villaraigosa and a bunch of tomato cans this time. But I don't think Villaraigosa should be celebrating about his performance. Despite 4 years of work as the Mayor, despite a field of underfunded nobodies, he actually got LESS votes in 2009 than he did in 2005. His support has diminished and not increased. And the seas are about to get a lot choppier.
Flanked onstage by Weiss, sometime-rival City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, Villaraigosa turned to the mounting challenges ahead from the city's looming $1 billion deficit to the possibility of widespread layoffs.
"I know these are troubled times for many of our families -- you see I've traveled around the city for the past few months and I witnessed the anxiety rising," Villaraigosa said. "I have a simple message for Los Angeles tonight, we're going to rebound out of this economic crisis and we will emerge stronger than ever."
The guy who is less likely to emerge stronger than ever is Villaraigosa. He ended up with just 56% of the vote after running a dismissive non-campaign where he refused to debate and spent almost no time in the city. One of his top lieutenants, Jack Weiss, is now in a runoff for city attorney despite spending millions on his campaign. And Measure B, the solar power initiative which the mayor backed, is too close to call at this hour, as provisionals and late absentees are tabulated.
That's an objectively terrible performance. And it should stop the Mayor from thinking about his next campaign so quickly. The enduring image of the Villaraigosa tenure is a crane alongside a half-built skyscraper. He is full of good ideas that never get the follow-through they deserve. That's what this election was like - he was already thinking about the Governor's race before finishing his re-election campaign. This may now be a fatal blow, but it doesn't look good for him. The Mayor of Los Angeles is a challenging, maddeningly complex position. It would be nice if the current occupant paid more attention to it.