Mike Feuer appeared to widen his lead 43 percent to 32 percent over Carmen Trutanich for Los Angeles City Attorney, and the two now look good to face one another in the May 21 runoff. Wealthy litigator Greg Smith was far behind them with 16 percent. Environmental attorney Noel Weiss was in fourth place with about 9 percent.
Trutanich fell out of favor with Los Angeles voters after getting embroiled in numerous controversies as city attorney, then he angered the city's more watchful voters by breaking his promise from his first run for city attorney that he would not try to jump jobs early to run for D.A.
Trutanich came in third in his 2012 bid for Los Angeles County District Attorney, so tonight's increasingly probable second-place finish — while deeply embarrassing for an incumbent — is not as bad as the outright loss some had predicted tonight for Trutanich.
Trutanich has become a popular media target and earned rare slams in public from two noteworthy civic figures, former Controller Laura Chick and former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.
As L.A. Weekly's Gene Maddaus reported last year:
Earlier this week, former controller Laura Chick went after City Attorney Carmen Trutanich for being “a liar and a demagogue.” Today, it's Bob Hertzberg's turn to take a few swings.
In an interview with the Weekly, Hertzberg accused Trutanich of “thuggery” for filing a lawsuit against his former campaign strategist, John Shallman (posted below). Hertzberg, the former Assembly speaker and onetime co-chair of Trutanich's transition team, had been trying to mediate a billing dispute arising from Trutanich's failed D.A. campaign. He said he was shocked that Trutanich went behind his back and filed suit without telling him.
“It's unethical behavior. It sickens me,” Hertzberg said. “This is as low as it gets. It's all for gamesmanship. It's just not honest.”
Feuer, a former Los Angeles City Council member representing the Westside from 1995 to 2001, ran for the city attorney job 11 years ago. But the somewhat stiff Feuer lost to the more folksy Rocky Delgadillo.
The key criticism of Feuer has long been that he thinks he is smarter than most people and it shows. Fair or not, in the 1990s the criticism left him less than popular with numerous members of the City Council, and as a result Feuer did not emerge as a top leader of that body.
Now he's hoping to move from ex-legislator to city attorney. He's been drawn into an ugly and increasingly bitter series of back and forth slams with Trutanich, who derides Feuer's lack of courtroom experience.
Greg Smith, who has been confused by many with former Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith, is a wealthy attorney who got rich by suing small and large cities and other government bodies after cops or firefighters alleged workplace injuries, workplace discrimination or whistle-blower violations.
Smith has made his name attacking government. If he won, it would be an even more dramatic ascent to Los Angeles City Attorney than was outsider Trutanich's four years ago, when he moved from private San Pedro attorney to politician.
Smith has spent a small fortune buying pricey TV advertising to jump from an unknown in a huge metropolitan area to a viable candidate.
He's got a somewhat feisty slogan on his campaign website: “We must suffocate the gangs in our city.”