Mayor Tom Bradley said today he is pleased by City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky's decision to drop out of the mayor's race--and even hinted at a sixth term should he win his fifth.
"One term is too many for some people. For me, five terms will not be too much," he said. "I've always felt I was unbeatable (although) sometimes that has not been true."
He spoke at a news conference after Yaroslavsky, saying he was discouraged by a poll indicating that he had little chance of unseating Bradley, made his withdrawal from the race official.
"Despite overwhelming agreement with my plans to make Los Angeles a healthier and safer place in which to live, I have decided over the past two weeks that a campaign against Tom Bradley is unlikely to be successful," the councilman told a morning news conference.
Yaroslavsky, 40, a Westside councilman since 1975, said he will instead seek reelection in the 5th District.
The announcement leaves Bradley, who has said he will run again in the April election for an unprecedented fifth term, with no serious, widely recognized challenger at this point in the campaign.
The Los Angeles mayoral election will be held April 11. To win, a candidate must get 50% of the votes plus one vote. If no candidate collects a majority, the two top vote-getters would square off June 6.
Bradley, at his news conference, promised a vigorous campaign, "working every neighborhood, every corner of this city."
The mayor said that with Yaroslavsky's withdrawal, "some of the potential conflict or tension that could have occurred in a hard-hitting campaign probably won't occur."
Bradley, a 71-year-old Democrat, became Los Angeles' first black mayor in 1973. He was defeated by a 1.2% margin by George Deukmejian in California's 1982 governor's race. Bradley blamed his defeat on a racist vote.
Deukmejian soundly defeated Bradley in the mayor's 1986 gubernatorial bid.
Westside council candidate Steve Saltzman said he welcomes Yaroslavsky's decision and he challenged him to appear at series of planned debates between 5th District contenders.
"It became readily apparent that Tom Bradley's personal popularity transcends the problems of this city. . . . It's obvious that Mayor Tom Bradley has developed a special rapport with the people of this city," Yaroslavsky said.
He said that he doesn't shy away from uphill battles but that this one looked impossible. "Sometimes it's better to live to fight another day."
A jovial Yaroslavsky, who appeared with his wife, Barbara, by his side, said he made the decision to withdraw during half time of the Orange Bowl college football game on Monday.
He said he had talked to Bradley late Thursday night and described him as "conciliatory and gracious." He also said his campaign had forced Bradley to change his position on local issues like the size of the Police Department, improved sewers and land-use and development.