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Hahn Delays 1st Event of Campaign

Mayor had to attend a security meeting instead. He also defends skipping the race's first debate.

August 14, 2004|Noam N. Levey | Times Staff Writer

Mayor James K. Hahn postponed his first official campaign event Friday, even as he was being forced to defend his decision not to attend the first scheduled mayoral debate.

Hahn's campaign announced Wednesday that the mayor would go to Hollywood on Friday afternoon to welcome Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge to his reelection campaign and talk about improvements to Hollywood.

But Friday, as the media reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed Hahn's e-mails, his campaign staff postponed the news conference.

Shannon Murphy, a Hahn spokeswoman, said the mayor had to go to a security briefing with federal and local law enforcement officials Friday afternoon.

The postponement came as Hahn was explaining this week why he would not attend the first mayoral debate of the campaign, to be held by the League of Women Voters in October.

The debate's producer, Scott Regberg, said he was told at one point by the mayor's office that Hahn would not attend because the debate was too early. Then the mayor's office said he had a scheduling conflict, he said.

On Wednesday, Hahn told listeners to KFWB-AM (980)'s "Ask the Mayor" program there was no scheduling issue. "I don't know what that's about," the mayor said. "I don't know where the scheduling requests went."

Hahn said he would not attend the debate because it was too far in advance of the March election and because more candidates might still enter the race.

He said he would consider attending later debates, but he did not sound enthusiastic.

"We did an awful lot of debates last time, and what I found happened last time was that since I knew more about city government than the people who were running against me, it was a great seminar for the other candidates," Hahn said. "I taught them everything I knew. And then they sounded knowledgeable by the end of the 20th or 30th debate."

Capitalizing on Hahn's reluctance, challenger Bob Hertzberg launched an online petition drive Friday to urge the mayor to join the debate. Hertzberg already has accepted the invitation to the debate, which also will feature fellow challengers Councilmen Antonio Villaraigosa and Bernard C. Parks and state Sen. Richard Alarcon.

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