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Unions Lose Race for LA Mayor


The ballots are in, and City Councilman Eric Garcetti has won the Los Angeles mayoral election. The race was notable for a lack of differences between between the candidates, low public enthusiasm, and dismal voter turnout, which barely cracked 20 percent. What’s most interesting about the race was the role of unions. Garcetti’s opponent, City Comptroller Wendy Gruel, enjoyed the support of city unions, but this became an albatross that may have cost her the election. The NYT reports:

Ms. Greuel won the backing of the city’s most influential unions, but Mr. Garcetti turned that into a liability, saying it would prevent her from securing concessions, particularly on pensions.

The race generated a record $33 million in spending, including outside money from political action committees. Those groups, including the union that represents workers from the Department of Water and Power, spent more than $3 million supporting Ms. Greuel.

Los Angeles faces a $100 million budget gap and, like most blue cities, is currently grappling with the exploding cost of public pensions. It seems that voters in LA considered these financial woes, took a look at the candidate the unions loved, and decided to go the other way.

Voters in more and more cities have been turning away from candidates seen as under the thumb of labor. Eric Garcetti isn’t going to be Mayor John Galt by any means, but the outcome of this race shows that even in the heart of blue California common sense and pragmatism still have some appeal.

[Public union protest image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • rheddles

    What it shows to me is that low information voters don’t show up for under publicized off cycle elections. That is why power should be devolved.

  • bigfire

    Not really. Greuel is backed by DWP management and union. Garcetti himeself is back by a whole bunch of other unions. I personally didn’t bother voting in this round as the guy I voted for (Kevin James) didn’t make it to the run-off in the last round. And I sincerely don’t see much of a differences between these two.

  • TheCynical1

    * Greul ran lots of TV ads showing Bill Clinton praising and endorsing her. I mistakenly assumed she would get alot more electoral mileage out of that.

    * A friend told me she attended a Greul event for African Americans, where Magic Johnson spoke and endorsed Greul. Apparently, in her remarks, Greul repeatedly called Magic a great “baseball” player. Even my friend — who’s not into sports — was flabbergasted.

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