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LOCAL ELECTIONS / L.A. MAYOR : Front-Runners Lead Late Spending Surge : Politics: Woo spends $1.15 million, Riordan $686,000 in latest 10-day campaign reporting period. Riordan is still far ahead in total outlays.

April 17, 1993|RICH CONNELL and RICHARD SIMON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Pulling away from competitors in a home-stretch burst of spending for mailers and television ads, the two front-running Los Angeles mayoral candidates shelled out nearly $2 million in a 10-day period ending Wednesday, new public reports show.

Los Angeles Councilman Michael Woo, who has led in polls throughout the race but been strongly challenged by wealthy businessman Richard Riordan in recent surveys, spent $1.15 million in the latest period, raising his total expenditures to $2.4 million.

Riordan, who is personally paying for much of his first campaign for major elective office, spent $686,000 in latest period, but remained far ahead of Woo in overall expenditures at $3.5 million.

Led by a surge of expenses on a last-minute volley of attack ads and mailers by Riordan and Woo, the crowded field of major mayoral candidates will spend more than three times the previous record total of $3.2 million set in the 1985 mayoral race.

Assemblyman Richard Katz, who has struggled unsuccessfully to break out of the second tier of candidates, spent $115,000 in the latest period, bringing his total to about $1.8 million. Former Deputy Mayor Linda Griego, the only politically prominent woman in the race, who has risen to third place in some polls, has spent a total of about $600,000.

Friday's reports were the last required before Tuesday's election. Already, Woo and Riordan have quietly begun planning their their multimillion-dollar fund-raising drives for a June 8 runoff.

Three of the city councilmen running for mayor--Woo, Nate Holden and Joel Wachs--were at City Hall Friday night as Mayor Tom Bradley went on television to plead for calm after verdicts expected today in the Rodney G. King civil rights trial.

As Bradley concluded his remarks, the three would-be mayors rushed out of their City Hall offices and toward the live TV crews set up outside the mayor's office. Holden sprinted down one corridor while Woo and Wachs quickly converged from two other directions--all for the opportunity of appearing before what they expected to be a massive television audience. All three praised Bradley's call for calm.

Woo said he intended to spend the evening visiting command posts, police stations and business people on Hollywood Boulevard. Wachs said he was going home to get some rest; Holden said he was going to his campaign headquarters.

Earlier in the day, Woo passed up an opportunity for TV coverage. He and Riordan skipped a KCBS-TV debate with their three closest challengers, Griego, Katz and Wachs.

The debate, to be aired Sunday, opened with photos of Woo and Riordan tacked to empty chairs, courtesy of the show's producer. By the time it was over, Woo's and Riordan's names had been invoked by rivals an average of once a minute during the half-hour broadcast.

When Katz criticized Wachs' proposal to create more than 100 "neighborhood councils," Wachs told Katz: "You sound like Mike Woo . . . who has never wanted to involve the people in his community."

"You're right when you talk about Mike Woo," said Katz. "The contribution that Mike Woo has made to defeating crime in L.A. is an ordinance than bans loud parties."

"You've got Mr. Riordan spending $5 million trying to project himself to be an outsider. . . . If he's an outsider, I'm from Mars," said Wachs. "The facts are that he has given more money than anyone in the history of Los Angeles to City Hall politicians."

Griego read a letter she sent to "Dick and Mike" asking them to refrain from attacks on each other. "In your eagerness to win, you have fallen back on the same old negative politics that helped get us into this mess in the first place," Griego wrote. "For the last week, both of you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads and mailers full of blame, guilt by association, smears and distortions.

"Stop tearing this city apart."

Woo did not attend the debate because he had to take care of a unspecified "family matter," said Woo spokesman Garry South. Riordan cited a scheduling conflict.

The candidates are hoping to do a better job at catching voters' attention than in the last TV debate. The KCBS program finished low in the ratings, behind even a bowling tournament and reruns of "I Love Lucy."

In other campaign developments:

* Woo and Riordan have agreed to meet with Griego in a televised debate the night before Tuesday's election. It is to be shown live at 10 p.m. Monday during the KTTV Channel 11 news.

* Katz and Riordan aired new ads.

Unlike Riordan's last ad, which was an attack on Woo, the new commercial focuses on Riordan's pledge to put 3,000 more police officers on the street. A tough-looking Riordan looks into the camera and says: "I'm certain you know the victim of a violent crime. . . . If the politicians spent less time on smear campaigns and more time fighting crime, maybe our streets would not look like a war zone."

The Katz ad calls for for not just "cooler heads" on the streets but "smarter heads" in City Hall as the Rodney G. King trial ends.

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