By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
A passion gap has opened up between the two campaigns; it‘s a major reason why Villaraigosa is now clearly out-fund-raising Hahn. (A recent L.A. Times report showed Villaraigosa outspending Hahn 2-to-1 on TV commercials.) “When people gave to Hahn, it was ’have to‘ money,” says Villaraigosa consultant Ace Smith. “Before the primary, he was the inevitable winner; they had to give to him. When he stopped being inevitable, they stopped giving. Antonio gets love money. People give him money because they love him.”
The dichotomy’s not that neat, of course -- Hahn has his love money, and Villaraigosa his special-interest donations -- but there‘s no doubt that if the electorate were restricted to voters who care deeply for their favored candidate, Villaraigosa would win in a walk. The Hahn campaign doesn’t really contest this point -- indeed, it seems to have substantially given up on selling its own candidate. Increasingly, Hahn‘s appearances and his commercials aren’t about Hahn‘s merits but Villaraigosa’s demerits, as the Hahn people characterize them. Tactically, one former state elected official remarked over the weekend, it‘s not a bad position to be in. “If the issue’s Antonio,” he said, “no one‘s going to be looking too closely at Jimmy.”
The key question of the campaign’s final 10 days, then, may be just how negative a campaign Hahn can get away with. By that standard, his campaign suffered a blow just this Wednesday, when District Attorney Steve Cooley issued a report concluding that operatives for Congressman (and primary-round mayoral candidate) Xavier Becerra and Council Member Nick Pacheco were responsible for a stunningly deceptive anti-Villaraigosa phone message that was delivered to thousands of households just before the primary. The message was from one “Gloria Marina”, which just happened to sound like Villaraigosa backer Gloria Molina, and accused him of voting for child molesters and rapists while in the Assembly. Becerra and Pacheco, not surprisingly, dispute Cooley‘s findings. (Cooley’s report, by the way, does not work wonders for Pacheco‘s campaign for the City Council presidency.)
Since the primary, Pacheco has endorsed Hahn, who plainly was a beneficiary of these and other anti-Villaraigosa slime jobs. With Cooley breathing down the necks of these operatives, however, it may prove more difficult for anyone to launch such attacks in the campaign’s final fortnight. Given the political evolution of the city over the past three decades, Hahn could not wage the kind of scare campaign that Sam Yorty ran against Tom Bradley even if his advisers wanted him to; he would have to subcontract it out. Now Cooley is circling all potential subcontractors; that cannot be good news for Hahn.
Villaraigosa has won the battle of foot soldiers (indeed, his campaign anticipates so large an election-night outpouring they‘ve booked a film studio to accommodate the crowd), but that’s something altogether different from winning the election. Hahn still has fear in his corner, which is ever a powerful motivator. “I believe hope always trumps fear,” Villaraigosa now tells crowds wherever he speaks. We‘ll see, soon enough.