Wendy Greuel this morning launched a reboot of her campaign for mayor of L.A., giving a speech at UCLA that attacked the media and rival Eric Garcetti, while including a tacit admission that she has struggled to define her candidacy.
Greuel acknowledged up front that her campaign has been overshadowed by the support of Working Californians, an independent group funded by the Department of Water and Power union, which has spent $2 million supporting her.
“Up until now, there has been one issue that has dominated this race — and that's been my support from one particular group: labor,” Greuel said. “That's unfortunate, and it's led to some of the media coverage and mud-slinging that you've seen.”
And while Greuel did not distance herself from her labor allies, she did try to redefine herself as a “strong leader” — a phrase she used half a dozen times — drawing an implicit contrast with Garcetti.
“L.A. needs a real leader who is more than just a nice guy,” Greuel said. “We need a tough mayor with a plan and a proven record to get things done.”
Greuel's reboot comes a little more than a week after a significant reshuffle of her campaign staff. Rose Kapolczynksi, who had been her campaign manager, was replaced by Janelle Erickson, who managed Greuel's first campaign for city council. The reorganization — accompanied by the departure of her volunteer field staff — followed a disappointing primary campaign effort.
Greuel's own polling showed her in the lead in December. But two months of attacks from Garcetti, as well as from rivals Kevin James and Jan Perry, left her battered. She finished four points behind Garcetti. in a much weakened position heading into the May 21 runoff.
Today, Greuel attempted to turn the page. She unveiled a new slogan — “Leading L.A. Forward” — which seemed either an homage to or a rip-off of Barack Obama's re-election slogan: “Forward.” She also made an apparent acknowledgement that while she is very good at “the art and science of public service,” she has struggled a bit with the art of campaigning.
“Campaigning is another thing,” she said. “Debating is another thing.”
Greuel talked extensively about education reform, in an apparent effort to appeal to women voters. Greuel had counted on support from women to boost her campaign, but there was no gender gap in the primary, as women supported Garcetti in equal numbers.
Greuel also spoke briefly about jobs, proposing a $50 million “tech jobs fund.” She also offered to slash the mayor's budget by 25%.
In an fitting touch for the venue, she closed with a quote from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”