Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are locked in a tight… (Los Angeles Times )
Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti remain locked in a tight fundraising battle, with the front-runners in Los Angeles' mayoral contest each raising just under a half-million dollars in recent weeks and both showing ample cash reserves to wage a vigorous effort in the closing days of the primary campaign, according to disclosure reports filed with the City Ethics Commission on Thursday.
Greuel has a razor-blade edge — the city controller raised $473,582 and spent more than $1.7 million in the latest reporting period between Jan. 20 and Feb. 16. She enters the final days before the March 5 contest with nearly $1.7 million cash on hand, according to the reports.
Noting that nearly three-quarters of her recent contributions came from first-time donors and more than half were from contributors who gave $250 and under, Greuel said the figures signified the momentum behind her campaign.
"It's amazing that so many Angelenos from every corner of the city are coming together to join our grassroots campaign," Greuel said in a statement. "In this election, we can fight together to change our city. We can build a stronger economy that creates jobs, a seamless public transportation system and better schools. We can crack down on waste in government so Angelenos can get the services they deserve. Today's report shows that people across L.A. are joining together to make this vision a reality."
Greuel's main rival, City Councilman Garcetti, raised $452,819 and spent nearly $2.5 million during the same time frame, ending the filing period with $1.5 million cash on hand, according to campaign filings. He noted that with more than 10,000 donors, he leads the field in grassroots support.
"I'm proud that our campaign's momentum is growing every day as more people learn about my plans to create jobs and solve problems for L.A. residents," Garcetti said in a statement. "You can see our grassroots strength through our fundraising, our energized volunteer corps and our thriving online network."
Overall, fundraising by the mayoral candidates has topped $11 million. Greuel and Garcetti are saturating the television and radio airwaves and have started attacking one another in voters' mailboxes. They have been fairly even in their fundraising efforts for many months, allowing them both to run a robust advertising campaign. But while Garcetti spent more during the filing period, Greuel has a steep advantage in outside efforts on her behalf. Of the $1.7 million spent by independent committees, more than $1.2 million has been spent to boost her bid, largely by labor.
Voters typically only see the candidates' ads and mailers, or clips of them on the nightly news. Under the radar, the candidates are spending significant time raising the kind of money it takes to campaign in a city as sprawling as Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, Garcetti held a fundraiser at the Petersen Automotive Museum with some of the city's hottest chefs — turning out a young and stylish crowd who sampled craft beers and delicacies such as braised and crispy pork with salted oats, house mostarda and toasted broccoli. On the same night, Greuel held a fundraiser with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) at the Beverly Hills manse of billionaire media mogul Haim Saban. But unlike Garcetti, her campaign did not allow the media to attend.
Greuel's ads have highlighted her efforts as controller to root out "waste, fraud and abuse" — claims her opponents say she has exaggerated. On Thursday, Garcetti launched two new 15-second ads featuring his endorsement by the Los Angeles Times. Those followed two introductory spots in English and Spanish. The councilman is spending more than $600,000 this week airing ads, according to a Democratic media consultant who is not working for any candidate. Greuel and the efforts on her behalf, which are not allowed to legally coordinate with her campaign, spent about $1.3 million in the same period, according to the media consultant.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who has been waging a blistering mail campaign against Greuel, continues to lag behind. She raised nearly $68,000 in the filing period, and spent nearly $809,000, leaving her with less than a half-million dollars for the remainder of the race. Emanuel Pleitez, the former technology executive who has never held elected office, reported raising nearly $20,000 and spending nearly $194,000 during the period, leaving him with nearly $146,000 cash on hand.
Kevin James, the sole Republican in the race, has been the beneficiary of nearly $500,000 in outside spending. He has had difficulties raising money, but his campaign has claimed that the numbers were improving. They did not file a disclosure report by press time, but his campaign manager said James had raised $52,000 and had spent $181,000 during the filing period, leaving the former entertainment attorney with about $25,000 cash on hand.
Times staff writer Maloy Moore contributed to this report.