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L.A.’s RACE FOR MAYOR

Greuel, Garcetti hope for support from Clinton or Obama

L.A.'s two leading mayoral candidates have each told confidants they hope one of those marquee presidential names will be in their corner. But such a possible imprimatur entails complications.

January 11, 2013|By James Rainey, Los Angeles Times

Obama could offer a limited, but still meaningful, show of support, as he did in November's hotly contested congressional race between congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. Obama never formally endorsed Berman, but the president signaled his approval by riding with the congressman to a May fundraiser at actor George Clooney's house. In a subsequent public note, he praised Berman's "extraordinary leadership" — words the longtime San Fernando Valley lawmaker recycled in the latter days of the campaign.

Early Hillary Clinton backer Sherman, in contrast, got support from former President Clinton. Sherman won the intra-party House race by a wide margin, though what role the dueling presidential endorsements may have played isn't clear.

Any Obama display on behalf of Garcetti would not be welcomed by DreamWorks moguls Spielberg and Katzenberg. Greuel worked for the studio in the 1990s, representing the executives before various politicians and government agencies.

The DreamWorks founders and their representatives stay in close contact with the White House. Spielberg attended a White House screening of his film "Lincoln" not long after the November election. In the 2012 contest, the DreamWorks luminaries gave $4 million to Priorities USA Action, a Super Pac that fought for the president's reelection.

Greuel's hopes for an endorsement from President Clinton and perhaps even from the outgoing secretary of State — who explicitly eschewed political entanglements during her time in the foreign service — stem from her own time working for the Clinton administration.

Greuel, now 51, was named to an administration job in the department of Housing and Urban Development, where she promoted home construction, job development and social services and oversaw recovery from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In August 2007, she endorsed the former first lady for president.

"We're hopeful and optimistic" about an endorsement, said one Greuel adviser. "She certainly is going to go after them. We will see what happens when we get closer."

The discussion of endorsements by the Clintons and Obama helps reinforce the notion that Greuel and Garcetti lead the race for mayor, said Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A. "We are talking about the three blue-chip names of the Democratic Party," he said.

Bill Clinton might be among those to remind analysts that presidential endorsements don't necessarily carry the day. Just a few months into his first term in 1993, he endorsed City Councilman Michael Woo for mayor of L.A. and even traveled to Van Nuys to pitch for the candidate.

Businessman Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, beat Woo soundly.

james.rainey@latimes.com

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