Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti’s two-year campaign to become the next mayor became reality Tuesday when he defeated Controller Wendy Greuel in the most expensive race in city history. Greuel was denied the opportunity to be the first woman elected Mayor in the City of Los Angeles.
As neither candidate clearly distinguished the differences they had in policy making, the election hinged on the voter turnout and the African American vote, but ultimately the deciding factor was the swing Republican or conservative voters who rallied behind Garcetti after the endorsement of primary Republican opponent Kevin James.
As the ballots began to come in, Greuel spurted to slim early return but as the night grew long the margin had vanished after more than 14 percent of the precincts were tabulated. Garcetti overcame a 50 to 49 percent deficit to take a commanding 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent advantage and continued a positive trend with 110,186 and 52 percent to Greuel’s 98,007 and 47 percent. The lead continued to widen to as much as 54 percent to 46 percent for the councilman.
While Greuel camp insiders were holding out hope and contending that the results would not be determined for days and perhaps week, the ballots told a much different story and thus Garcetti will become mayor elect.
In what many experts predicted to be a hotly contested race between the two veteran local Democrats who campaigned profusely up until the final hours of the election to replace termed out mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, instead resulted in a decisive win for Garcetti.
Greuel had the backing of political heavyweights such as former President Bill Clinton for whom she was once a staffer, Congress icon Maxine Waters, Supervisor Mark Ridely Thomas and basketball great Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson.
Garcetti countered with the support of City Council colleagues President Herb Wesson, 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry and 8th District Councilman Bernard Parks, in addition to rising star Congresswoman Karen Bass.
The son of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Eric also won the support of acclaimed actor Danny Glover.
Greuel also had massive backing from unions that fueled her campaign war chest to the tune of more than $4.1 million.
With an estimated 160,471 ballots mailed in before Election Day, the official total numbers were expected to be low.
At the end the night campaign parties for both candidates were upbeat and predicting a win. Greuel was at a nightclub in downtown Los Angeles, and Garcetti supporters rallied at the Hollywood Palladium.
Both candidates won the right to be in a runoff after defeating six other candidates in the March primary, but the third and fourth place finishers Perry and James joined forces with Garcetti.
Garcetti represents a new era of politics and was among the first local politicians to support Barack Obama’s bid for President.
He was elected four times by his peers to serve as President of the Los Angeles City Council from 2006 to 2012 and has continued to serve as the Councilmember representing the 13th District, which the L.A. chamber of commerce ranks as number one in job growth.
Voters appeared to have been inspired by Garcetti's stewardship of Council District 13" and that as council president, he worked behind the scenes to awaken his colleagues to the depth of the city's financial crisis and to take action they did not want to take.
Raised in the San Fernando Valley, a region that was critical in the election, Garcetti earned his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University. He studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and the London School of Economics and taught at Occidental College and U.S.C.
A fourth generation Angeleno, the Silver Lake resident is married with a one-year-old daughter. He is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy reserve and is an avid jazz pianist and photographer, and now he is the Mayor of Los Angeles.