Update below: Check out Kevin James' latest video, and an Eric Garcetti radio ad.
Controller Wendy Greuel launched a new radio ad today in the increasingly contentious race for L.A. mayor, attacking councilman Eric Garcetti for taking "luxury trips around the world" on the taxpayer's dime.
The spot (audio after the jump) is the first negative ad to hit the airwaves from one of the leading candidates. In addition to attacking Garcetti, it seeks to defend Greuel from the charge that she has overstated the amount of waste she's uncovered as city controller.
"Eric Garcetti says the numbers aren't true - but that's because he was a big part of the problem," the narrator intones. "Over and over again, Eric Garcetti did nothing on the City Council to stop waste or recover the money."
So far, we haven't seen any negative ads on TV (aside from this). But there's still a week to go.
The campaigns and their allies are boosting their spending on TV this week. Greuel and the independent committees backing her campaign are outspending Garcetti, according to sources familiar with TV buys. But because independent committees must pay a much higher rate than the candidates themselves, the two are about even in terms of TV time.
Greuel is spending about $450,000, to Garcetti's $775,000. Working Californians, the IBEW-funded independent group behind Greuel, is spending another $550,000. The L.A. Police Protective League appears to be spending roughly another $250,000.
Better Way L.A., which is backing Kevin James, went off the air over the weekend but has returned with a buy just under $200,000 -- thanks to Houston billionaire John Arnold.
Meanwhile, over in the race for city attorney, incumbent Carmen Trutanich released this ad on cable yesterday -- which looks like something Larry H. Parker would be proud of:
Sources say he has put $27,000 behind the spot, though his consultant, Rick Taylor, said it would bump up to $65,000. The ads should be airing on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and ESPN.
The primary is March 5.
Update, 10:19 p.m.: Not to be left out, Kevin James is out with a new web video. Actors portraying Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti murder someone and bury the body together. Because, y'know, subtlety:
Update 2, 11:00 a.m.: John Shallman, Greuel's strategist, responds: "If the Kevin James campaign falls in a forest, can anyone hear it? With 209 views on YouTube, the only people seeing Kevin James' ad is Kevin James. His campaign is like a bloated government agency -- money goes in, nothing comes out."
Update 3, 11:30 a.m.: Eric Garcetti puts out a positive radio ad, in which he talks about the "simple kind of life" of his childhood: