The gathering of political eagles perched on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday was meant to show off the diversity of support for Los Angeles City Council President Pat Russell. But the show of force, headed by Mayor Tom Bradley, also emphasized the degree to which Russell's reelection campaign has become identified with the city's political establishment.
The high-powered lineup on behalf of the 17-year council veteran was symbolic of a campaign that has been run on the strength of financial support from interest groups such as developers and labor unions who count on City Hall's continuing commitment to new construction and business expansion.
Wednesday night, many of the traditional interests, both political and business, who support Russell were represented at her largest campaign fund-raiser, expected to raise the amount of her contributions to more than $500,000.
Words of Praise
Earlier, on the City Hall steps, members of the group marshaled by Russell during the last week of her close race against challenger Ruth Galanter stepped forward to speak the councilwoman's praises.
"I've never worked with anyone more qualified," said Gilbert Lindsay, who at 86 is the oldest member of the City Council.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich spoke of Russell's "sensitivity" to crime, development and constituent services, as he deftly touched on the three key issues in the campaign.
Russell told her audience that she is the mainstream candidate with the sort of hearth and home values shared by the "family oriented" majority in the 6th District. Russell's comments reinforced a recurring accusation--that Galanter speaks for a narrow, Venice-based constituency whose leftist views are out of step with the rest of the district.
Charge Not Backed
But Russell, who has been asked this repeatedly during the campaign, again did not have a direct answer to the question: What has Galanter done or said to be branded a leftist? Up to now, Russell has sought to raise doubts about Galanter's political inclinations by pointing to the leftist leanings of a handful of her aides.
Russell took the same approach Wednesday, saying that a candidate's political associations "are really a mark of what you bring to office." And Russell said that Galanter would be bad for City Hall because she does not represent mainstream community values.
Marcela Howell, Galanter's campaign manager, said the pro-Russell gathering typified the differences in the two campaigns.
"You have the political establishment circling the wagons around an entrenched incumbent, and you have a grass-roots challenge composed of people who actually live and work in the 6th District," Howell said. "It's a case of David and Goliath, of people versus a political machine."
Russell had her own name for the group that came together on her behalf Wednesday.
Called the 'A' Team
"This is the 'A' team from City Hall," she said, pointing to the ethnically diverse assemblage of nearly two-dozen people that actually included representatives of both city and county government, members of both major political parties and people who have opposed Russell on major issues in the past.
Among those present were 10 council members; City Controller Rick Tuttle; Los Angeles County Supervisors Antonovich and Ed Edelman; City Planning Commission President Dan Garcia and Community Redevelopment Agency Chairman Jim Wood.
"The diversity of this group suggests how important her leadership is," said Garcia, one of the city's key arbiters of disputes over growth and development--issues that weigh heavily on the minds of many 6th District voters.