The L.A. County Federation of Labor, one of the biggest sources of power in L.A. elections, has decided not to endorse in the first round of the L.A. mayor's race, according to multiple sources.
Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are the two candidates with the strongest labor support. But neither could muster the two-thirds vote necessary to win the backing of the Fed's political committee.
The Fed's support often brings phone banks and an army of precinct walkers, which can make the difference in a close race. The decision not to endorse leaves the candidates in a free-for-all as they seek labor backing.
Over the weekend, Garcetti picked up the Teamsters, while Greuel got the support of Assembly Speaker John Perez, a close union ally.
The Fed's non-endorsement was not a surprise to close observers, especially after the Service Employees International Union declined to endorse last week. SEIU makes up more than 30% of the Federation, so without its backing it becomes mathematically difficult to reach the two-thirds threshold.
"With two strong candidates leading the field, both Democrats who have gotten the endorsement in the past, it was unlikely that any one candidate would get that two-thirds," said Rose Kapolczynski, one of Greuel's consultants.
The Fed may reconsider after the March primary, in time for the May runoff.
"I think this is the beginning of the process with labor, not the end," said Bill Carrick, Garcetti's consultant. "I think we just keep engaging and trying to win their support."
The political's committee's decision -- officially, "no recommendation" -- will go to the executive board and the full delegation for approval. The committee's decisions are rarely overturned.
Despite the Fed's substantial clout, the organization did not back the winner in either of the last two seriously contested mayoral races. The Fed endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa in February 2001, only to see him lose in the runoff to James Hahn. In December 2004, the Fed backed Hahn. He lost to Villaraigosa.