Two top strategists have left Austin Beutner's campaign, in the first major shake-up of the 2013 race for L.A. mayor.
Ace Smith and Sean Clegg stepped down just a few days before the next campaign finance reports are due.
The news was first reported by the L.A. Times' David Zahniser, who surmises that the split was tied to Beutner's jobs speech last week, in which he offered an "increasingly harsh" critique of L.A. City Hall. (Smith and Clegg go way back with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.)
But Clegg rejects that analysis. And indeed, if anything, Beutner's critique of City Hall was not harsh enough.
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Beutner has the backing of former Mayor Richard Riordan, and is looking to rebuild his winning coalition. Like Riordan, he's running as a successful businessman who has just enough City Hall experience to know what needs to be fixed.
But Beutner has not displayed much -- if any -- of Riordan's pugnacity. In his speech last week, he criticized City Hall in the abstract, but he did not call out anybody in particular. For example, he mentioned endless bureaucratic delays entailed in getting projects approved. But who's responsible for those delays? He never said.
He talked about jobs and trade, light rail and the airport. But his most memorable proposal was to kill the high-speed rail project, which has nothing to do with City Hall. When specifically asked to critique Villaraigosa, he declined.
That doesn't sound like somebody who's being too tough on City Hall. If he's going to reconstitute Riordan's army, he's going to have to get tougher.