Hahn Trails Villaraigosa in the Race for Money

By Jeffrey L. Rabin and Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn has raised significantly less money for the mayoral runoff campaign than rival Antonio Villaraigosa in the weeks since the March 8 election.

Hahn's campaign reported Thursday that the incumbent raised $407,795 through last Saturday, less than two-thirds of what his opponent collected during that period.

Villaraigosa, a city councilman and former speaker of the state Assembly, reported Wednesday to the City Ethics Commission that he had raised $653,255.

Hours before filing his campaign finance report, Hahn said he was not concerned that he trailed Villaraigosa in money. "I haven't raised as much, but I'm going to be competitive," Hahn said at a campaign event in Van Nuys. "We're going to have enough money to get our message out."

Steven P. Erie, director of the urban studies and planning program at UC San Diego, said the fundraising figures are a sign that Hahn could be in trouble. "It's a fairly substantial gap," he said. "To be this far behind is not a good sign."

Hahn, however, also lagged behind Villaraigosa in the money race when they faced off in the 2001 runoff election. Villaraigosa raised $2.9 million, 42% more than Hahn's $2.1 million. But Hahn beat Villaraigosa by 7 percentage points.

Raphael Sonenshein, a Cal State Fullerton professor and an expert on Los Angeles politics, said Hahn's fundraising shortfall is significant, but probably has more of a psychological effect than a real one. As an incumbent mayor, Hahn has the ability to bring in large sums of money in the weeks before the May 17 election, Sonenshein said.

"Hahn is clearly the underdog," Sonenshein said. "But Hahn's reelection troubles have been visible for months, and yet you still can't count him out."

Sonenshein noted that Hahn has an advantage in being able to command free television coverage as mayor. And he said that having less money, though not desirable, could help Hahn blunt the criticism that he has taken a lot of money from special interests with business at City Hall.

Villaraigosa's campaign manager, Ace Smith, was delighted with the mayor's financial standing. "It's an incredibly weak performance for an incumbent mayor of one of the largest cities in America," he said. "His campaign is in big trouble. It's that simple."

In a city as sprawling and diffuse as Los Angeles, candidates are heavily dependent on television ads to reach voters. Since 2001, the cost of those ads has increased dramatically, making the money race that much more important.

Hahn's campaign returned to many of his longtime supporters to raise money since the March 8 election, which saw him finish 9 percentage points behind Villaraigosa.

The mayor's campaign received thousands of dollars from attorneys with law firms doing business with the city, including lawyers for Manatt Phelps & Phillips; O'Melveny & Myers; and Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs.

A large number of real estate and development firms also contributed to the mayor. Hahn received $1,000 each from AEG and the firm's chief executive, Tim Leiweke. AEG built Staples Center with financial help from the city and is now trying to win city approval for a $1-billion development near Staples.

The mayor also turned to longtime insiders, including attorney George Kieffer, former president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles); and investment banker John Emerson, a former Clinton White House aide who was Hahn's chief of staff when Hahn was city attorney.

Checks also came from unions and trade groups, which have thrown their support behind the incumbent. Hahn received the maximum $1,000 each from the Los Angeles Police Command Officers Assn., Service Employees International Union Local 347, the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn. and Gunite Workers Local 345. He received $500 from the Directors Guild of America.

Hahn campaign strategist Kam Kuwata said Hahn's support from organized labor would include thousands of union members walking precincts and working phone banks.

City Hall lobbyists also made a big showing. Those who contributed $1,000 to Hahn include: Butterfield Communications, Darlene Kuba, Rudy Svorinich Jr. and Ek & Ek.

The last firm was co-host at a fundraiser for Hahn last week. The Airport Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, voted Monday to extend a contract for McDonald's restaurants at LAX. Lobbyist John Ek represents McDonald's outlets at the airport.

Hahn fundraiser Annette Castro and her husband, lobbyist Julio Ramirez Jr., each contributed $1,000. Ramirez represents the Hudson Group, whose contract to run bookstores and newsstands at LAX was also extended Monday by the Airport Commission.

Asked about contributions from firms that do business with the city, Kuwata said, "Both campaigns have that."

The entertainment industry also stepped up. Sylvester Stallone, Burt Bacharach, Warner Bros. President Alan Horn and producer Gary Ross donated $1,000 each.

Other prominent contributors who gave $1,000 included construction company president Ronald Tutor, billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, Hilton Hotels co-chairman William Barron Hilton, Univision Chairman and Chief Executive A. Jerrold Perenchio and former Police Commissioner Bert Boeckmann.

The mayor also received $1,000 from Advanced Cleanup Technologies, a firm whose attorney is Harbor Commission President Nicholas G. Tonsich, a Hahn appointee. The firm recently won a $300,000 contract from the port.

Hahn, who lives in San Pedro, received support from businesses in the harbor town. Port of Los Angeles tenant Yusen Terminals Inc. contributed $1,000. Pacific Energy Group of Long Beach gave $1,000 and is seeking to build a large crude-oil terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

Also giving $1,000 were Andrew C. Fox, president of Pacific Harbor Line, a port rail line, and Metropolitan Stevedore Co. of Wilmington.

Other San Pedro business leaders donating $1,000 include James Cross, head of a group seeking to launch a charter high school in a port building, and Jayme Wilson, owner of Spirit Cruises and co-chairman of a port community advisory panel created by Hahn.


Times staff writer Deborah Schoch and researcher Maloy Moore contributed to this report.

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