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LOCAL ELECTIONS / L.A. CITY COUNCIL : A Dead Heat in More Ways Than One


NORTHEAST LOS ANGELES — The two candidates in the Los Angeles City Council's 13th District race--who appear locked in a tight race in the final days before Tuesday's runoff election--are also running neck-and-neck in their fund-raising efforts, city campaign financial reports show.

Additionally, the reports show that the pair have been raising their money from distinctive camps, with Tom LaBonge drawing heavy financial support from real estate developers and lobbyists while Jackie Goldberg has gotten large sums from labor unions, women's groups and gay rights activists.

The winner in the race will fill the seat being vacated by mayoral hopeful Michael Woo.

Since the April 20 primary, LaBonge has raised $115,000 to Goldberg's $103,000. Including taxpayer matching funds and all other contributions during a spirited primary campaign in which they easily vanquished six other candidates, LaBonge has raised $497,000 to Goldberg's $445,000.

With the election less than a week away, observers rate the race between Goldberg, 48, the liberal former Los Angeles school board member, and the more conservative LaBonge, 39, a longtime aide to Council President John Ferraro, as a virtual dead heat.

The district stretches east from the heart of Hollywood and includes parts of Silver Lake, Echo Park, Temple-Beaudry, Atwater Village, Glassell Park and Mt. Washington.

As she has done throughout the campaign, Goldberg this week attacked LaBonge for accepting money from developers and registered lobbyists, saying the LaBonge campaign represents "business as usual" for special interests.

"Anybody who accepts $50,000 from developers and tells you he isn't going to be beholden to them is being either naive or inaccurate, and I don't think (LaBonge) is naive," Goldberg said.

LaBonge said Wednesday that his campaign has accepted no more than $25,000 from developers, adding, "Anybody who knows me knows I'm not going to be beholden to anyone but the people."

The LaBonge campaign, meanwhile, accused Goldberg of accepting money from developers and lobbyists even as it criticized him for doing so, prompting a sharp denial from the Goldberg camp.

Goldberg spokeswoman Sue Burnside said the campaign had returned "about 10 unsolicited checks" to developers and lobbyists after learning the source of the money. "We haven't accepted one cent of developer or lobbyist money," she said.

Among development interests, LaBonge raised $2,500 from individuals associated with developer Jerome Snyder, who is involved in the massive Channel Gateway project near Marina del Rey and two projects along the Wilshire Corridor--Museum Square and Wilshire Courtyard.

LaBonge also raised $2,500 from investor Larry Worshell and several members of the Ullman family, whose properties include the Hollywood Palladium.

Besides a slew of labor unions, Goldberg drew the maximum $500 contributions from several women's groups and individuals, as well as many smaller contributions from a wide range of people.

Goldberg, who would become the first openly gay or lesbian member of the City Council, benefited heavily from fund-raising efforts by two gay rights organizations: The Victory Fund and ANGLE, an acronym for Access Now for Gay-Lesbian Equality.

While Goldberg has hit hard at LaBonge for relying heavily on developers, the LaBonge campaign, which has the endorsement of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, this week stepped up its attack on Goldberg as weak on school safety issues during her eight years on the school board.

Goldberg, who has defended her record as being tough on gangs and school violence, received an endorsement from the 250-member Los Angeles School Police Officers Assn.

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