A few weeks ago, Emanuel Pleitez called up Fernando Guerra -- a veteran political analyst -- and asked whether he should run for mayor. Pleitez is just 29, with a resume that includes Stanford and Goldman Sachs. He has no shortage of ambition, but Guerra told him to hold off.
"I don't think he stands a chance," Guerra says. "He has no name recognition, no money, no endorsements, no particular issue, no base. So it's like, no chance."
Pleitez could not be discouraged. Last week, he announced his candidacy, making him the only Latino in the race to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"A lot of folks are saying, 'This is a long-shot candidate,'" Pleitez says. "We're going to run a very unconventional campaign. We're going to raise enough money to be competitive."
Pleitez grew up in El Sereno, the child of a single mom. After college, he worked briefly as an aide to Villaraigosa before winding up as an equities trader at Goldman Sachs. He left that behind in 2009 to launch a long-shot bid for an open Congressional seat in East L.A.
He rallied a bunch of college friends, and did well enough that Gil Cedillo was forced to attack him, sending a mailer (below) that ripped him for posting some party photos on his Facebook page. Judy Chu won. Pleitez finished third, and may well have cost Cedillo the election by splitting the Latino vote.
After that, he bolstered his resume with a stint in the Treasury Department, where he served as a special assistant to former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. He argues that that experience gave him "an understanding of economic policy at the highest level," which he can apply to L.A.'s lackluster economy.
"It's all about jobs," Pleitez says. "The new mayor needs a more
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integrated focus on how to increase innovation."
Pleitez was motivated to run because no other Latino has entered the race. If he gets on the ballot, he could siphon votes from Councilman Eric Garcetti -- who figures to do well in the Latino community.
But Guerra argues that Latinos will stick with Garcetti, who represents a Latino district and can claim Latino heritage on his father's side.
"I don't think Eric Garcetti is worried about him running," Guerra says. "He should run for council or something like that. He's potentially a great candidate. But now, if he tries to do that later, he's gonna be a two-time loser. I'm boggled."