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Feuer, Trutanich waste no time in gearing up for L.A. city attorney runoff

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich signals he's going to continue his campaign's combative stance to try and keep his post. Mike Feuer, who came in first in the primary, keeps up his own pointed criticisms.

March 06, 2013|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times
  • Unofficial returns from Tuesday's municipal primary showed Carmen Trutanich, left, with 30% of the vote, compared with Mike Feuer's nearly 44%.
Unofficial returns from Tuesday's municipal primary showed Carmen…

On the morning after he became the top vote-getter in a bruising, four-candidate contest for Los Angeles city attorney, former lawmaker Mike Feuer got up early Wednesday and hit the phones, already campaigning for the May runoff against incumbent Carmen Trutanich.

"This is the time to seize this momentum and carry it forward," Feuer said after unofficial returns from Tuesday's municipal primary showed him with almost 44% of the vote to Trutanich's 30%. Two other candidates, private attorneys Greg Smith and Noel Weiss, finished with 17% and nearly 7%, respectively.

Trutanich said Wednesday he was "very excited" by the vote and predicted he would overcome the 14-point deficit in the weeks ahead.

"Everybody had somewhat written us off," he said of his late, rocky start after a poor showing in the county district attorney race last year. "This shows if you stay focused and work hard, you'll get the job done."

Trutanich said he would continue to make an issue of a "no-win, no-pay" contract between Feuer and his campaign consultant that critics say hides the true cost of the campaign from voters. The Feuer campaign said it had vetted the arrangement with the City Ethics Commission in advance.

In a statement Wednesday, campaign spokesman John Schwada invoked Trutanich's come-from-behind win in 2009, when the first-time candidate shocked observers by defeating then-Councilman Jack Weiss, a close ally of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a runoff. And he echoed some of the themes Trutanich has sounded during the primary, including assertions he has saved taxpayers money by winning jury verdicts and favorable lawsuit settlements, and that he has the courtroom experience (as a former deputy district attorney and the head of a private law firm) he said is needed to be an effective city attorney.

The statement signaled that Trutanich plans to keep up his campaign's combative stance in the weeks ahead. "He's a real prosecutor, a real trial lawyer, not a Sacramento politician posing as a prosecutor," it said.

Trutanich, 61, from the port community of San Pedro, got into the race late and throughout much of the primary he found himself on the defensive over his broken promise to serve two full terms as city attorney before seeking another office.

Feuer, 54, got an early start and raised almost twice as much money as Trutanich. Feuer also lined up a long, varied list of supporters, from top Democratic officeholders to neighborhood council presidents and individuals. He said the backing demonstrates the depth of his support.

Feuer, who lives on the city's Westside, said he wants to focus on his record as a one-time City Council member and state assemblyman and his ideas for improving neighborhood safety. He said he would use the office to work collaboratively with the mayor, city controller and council members to help "solve the problems that matter most." He again criticized Trutanich's priorities for the office, saying the incumbent cared more about going after ticket scalpers than he did about curbing gun violence.

Both candidates suffered personal setbacks during the campaign. In early December, Feuer was hospitalized in intensive care for several days after a truck reportedly ran a red light and crashed into his Prius. On Saturday, Trutanich's mother, Esther Trutanich, 91, died, leading him to cancel campaign appearances during the hectic weekend before the primary.

Feuer came close to winning the city attorney post years earlier. In 2001, when he was a councilman, he narrowly finished first in the primary but lost the general election to Rocky Delgadillo, 52% to 48%.

Although the city post is officially nonpartisan, party affiliation can sometimes be a factor in tight races in this strongly Democratic city. Feuer is a Democrat; Trutanich is a former Republican who is currently unaffiliated with a political party.

jean.merl@latimes.com

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