Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Election Projection: Wendy Greuel Wins!

I spent a good part of the day yesterday handicapping the Mayoral Race in Los Angeles.

Election Day is March 5th, 2013.

I have written about this contest multiple times on my blog.

Way back in 2009, I had Eric Garcetti as the early favorite, slightly ahead of Rick Caruso, with Zev Yaroslavsky just behind them. Wendy Greuel wasn't even in the Top 5 at the time.

In 2011, the race had changed into more of an insiders operation , with elected officials like Garcetti, Yaroslavsky and Greuel moving towards the front of the pack, and outsiders like Magic Johnson and Rick Caruso starting to fade from the scene.

In August of 2012, when Zev Yaroslavsky officially dropped out of contention, I still saw developer Rick Caruso and his billions as the primary threat to the careers of ambitious, union-backed Socialist politicians here in Los Angeles.

By December of 2012, we were down to our Final Four: Garcetti, Greuel, James and Perry.

I still believe in the odds I had listed, with minor revisions. My current prediction for the March Election is as follows:

Garcetti 31%
Greuel 27%
James 17%
Perry 14%
Others 11%

So...if Wendy Greuel is going to finish second in March, why am I predicting her victory in May?

Several reasons.

First of all, you don't win the Mayors Office in Los Angeles without the big union voting blocs. The only exception to this rule could have been billionaire developer Rick Caruso, who declined to run.

Recently the SEIU, which controls a big union voting bloc, decided to consider endorsing Garcetti or Greuel. For them they only saw two options. This tells you one thing loud and clear: Kevin James and Jan Perry are done. They are out. They have no shot.

None. ZERO.

And I know this will upset their camps, but I am here to speak the truth, not to blow smoke.

Municipal elections here in LA are very low-turnout, and the few people who vote are usually government employees who are voting to protect their paycheck. Look at 2009. Antonio Villaraigosa handily won re-election due to the votes of these government dependents. His approval rating at the time was in the toilet due to his very public adultery and generally buffoonish preening in front of the media. But he won going away. Those voters wanted their government paycheck...and if Antonio had to be attached to that be it.

These are the exact same voters who will decide this election.

They are not voting for Emanuel Pleitez, who just turned 30 and doesn't have a decade-long record of doling out goodies to these government voters.

Some of them will be voting for Jan Perry, but outside of her district, she is not as popular as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel in the City Democratic Voter Machine.

Kevin James is a nice guy, and I like some of his policies, but again, he hasn't been handing out money, contracts, or other goodies to the voters here. He will get a good chunk of votes, but he won't win.

That leaves us with Eric & Wendy.

Once the smoke clears from the March Election... Democratic and union voters will be left to choose from Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. These two political figures have had similar career arcs and both have similar political philosophies. So why am I siding with Wendy?

Five big things:

1. Wendy Greuel is Old School.

Wendy Greuel worked for Tom Bradley... yeah.. that's how far back she goes. Way back. She has been attending luncheons and shaking hands and cutting deals for decades now. Many people owe her a favor or at least the courtesy of their support. (Christine Essel is probably going to be a Deputy Mayor when this is all said and done.)

2. Wendy Greuel is a familiar name and a previous city-wide candidate

Eric Garcetti is also a city-wide name, but people in San Pedro and Venice and Woodland Hills have never marked his name on a ballot. They have marked the name Wendy Greuel in the past. People are creatures of habit, and lacking sufficient motivations, tend to go with what they know on most occasions.

3. Wendy Greuel is a woman.

Expect to hear this bell get rung about 1,000 times in the next four months; "Wendy Greuel would be the first female Mayor of Los Angeles". Yep. If women vote for her, she will be. Eric Garcetti will have nightmares about this factoid by May.

4. Wendy Greuel is a killer (politician) 

Wendy Greuel has an instinct to go for the throat when trying to beat her opponents. Ever since squeaking by Tony Cardenas years ago, she has been routing people. Wendy got 168,680 votes in 2009 when she ran for Controller. She got more votes than Mayor Villaraigosa did in that election!  In fact, she received the most votes of any single candidate in that election. She is already somewhat popular with voters.

5. The math is starting to favor Wendy Greuel. 

Sometimes, the candidate is just along for the ride. Wendy Greuel has a variety of ways to get to the Mayors Office: If the unions choose Wendy, she wins. If government workers choose Wendy, she wins. If female voters choose Wendy, she wins. If her old school connections work out for her, she wins. If most of the people who voted for her in 2009 vote for her in 2013, she wins.

Eric Garcetti is still a real and viable threat to Wendy Greuels dreams, but the math is starting to work against him. At this point I'm not even 100% sure Eric will take first place in the primary.