The council member said Wachs received only 55% of the ballots cast on Election Day, after challenger Hays waged a last-minute mail blitz. Wachs' support was raised to 65% by a strong showing in the absentee ballots.
Not a Vote of Confidence
Another council member said that, although Wachs won over a new constituency, he could easily lose their support by beginning a campaign for mayor too soon after his reelection.
Hays, meanwhile, said Wachs should not see his victory as a vote of confidence for a future run for mayor.
"If he runs for mayor, he is going to run against people with equal financial resources and equal power bases," Hays said. "I don't see how he sees this victory as any kind of mandate."
Saying that he was "a lousy loser," Hays vowed to run against Wachs again in four years.
Wachs, meanwhile, said Wednesday that the election campaign has also enabled him to grow personally.
"This has been an invigorating experience," he said, remarking that, after 16 years of representing the same safe district, he feared that he was becoming complacent. However, he said, the challenge of running for reelection in an almost entirely new district has sharpened his political skills.
Campaign Started Early
Wachs won reelection by starting his campaign early. Even before the redistricting plan was approved, he was in what would become his new district, joining hundreds of residents at demonstrations to protest the plan.
Wachs also went into the campaign with more than $600,000, raised since his last campaign four years ago. He raised another $172,000. In contrast, Hays raised about $35,000.
Wachs also got the city to sponsor a country music festival, attended by about 125,000 people in Hansen Dam Recreation Area less than two weeks before the election.
In the final days of campaigning, Wachs withstood an ugly campaign piece accusing him of promoting activities that spread AIDS. The mailer attacked Wachs for serving as grand marshal of the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 1983.