President Bill Clinton is nowhere to be found on the dance floor, but L.A. mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and her other supporters are hoping to whoop it up at The Exchange nightclub in downtown near Pershing Square.
“You've seen some of the absentee results and what do they tell you?!” former California State Assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg asks an optimistic crowd. “We're winning this campaign!”
Inside the old Los Angeles Stock Exchange building, where a steady stream of '80s pop hits from such bands as The Police and Journey loudly play over the speakers and a group of teenagers wearing matching red T-shirts hang out in a corner and play with their smart phones, Greuel supporters cling to the hope that their underdog candidate will win.
So far, Greuel's backers are putting a good face on what could be a disappointing night — rival Eric Garcetti has consistently led Greuel in the polls.
“Wendy has gone big for the future of Los Angeles,” California State Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell says to the crowd after Hertzberg.
“Wendy didn't have to make up many stories, right?” labor movement icon Dolores Huerta says after Mitchell, giving a public dig to Garcetti. “Not like someone else did.”
But Greuel's supporters wouldn't have been happy to hear what L.A. politicos are saying about Greuel's campaign.
Before the Exchange party, the L.A. Weekly caught up with Democratic political consultant Garry South and former Los Angeles Daily News editor Ron Kaye, asking them what they thought about Greuel's run for mayor.
South thought that if Greuel loses, she largely has herself to blame. “Her campaign never had any cogent messaging at all,” he said.
Ron Kaye added that Greuel also came across as “incapable of actually saying anything.”
Kaye said, “She never took a stand and said, 'This is what I'm going to do.'”
Other critics have noted that Greuel made a miscalculation by closely aligning herself with the controversial and incredibly powerful labor union at the Department of Water and Power. That alliance, say critics, undercut her outsider, reform-minded image.
But if Greuel pulls off an upset, South said, her endorsements from President Bill Clinton and former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, as well her ties to former L.A. mayor Tom Bradley, undoubtedly helped.
South said she also probably created a winning coalition that featured black voters in South Los Angeles, women, and Westside Democrats.
Kaye added that in a winning scenario, Greuel was aided by the fact that Garcetti, too, didn't say much of substance.
“Eric took the route of symbolic language and didn't stand up and say what he believed in,” said Kaye.
Kaye added, “Neither candidate touched our hearts,” but Greuel “was more likable. Everybody loves Wendy.”
That's what Greuel is hoping for as she waits for tonight's final tally.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.
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