Former mayoal candidate Emanuel Pleitez, second from right, endorses… (Kevork Djansezian, Getty…)
Emanuel Pleitez, the long-shot Los Angeles mayoral candidate who received a scant 4% of the primary vote despite an inspiring personal story, endorsed former rival Eric Garcetti on Saturday afternoon.
The former technology executive, who touted his humble beginnings as he courted the Latino vote during the primary campaign, said Garcetti, a city councilman, shared his passion for making sure all Angelenos had a voice.
"I ran for mayor because I care deeply about this city, and you know this city is where my family came for opportunity like so many other families from other countries [and] from other parts of the country, to live a better life, not just for themselves, for their kids, their grandkids," he said, speaking outside a skating rink near Echo Park. "That's why I'm standing here today with someone who cares just as deeply about Los Angeles."
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The two men shook hands and embraced, with Garcetti — who finished first in a field of eight contenders — saying, "I welcome Team Pleitez to Team Garcetti today."
Neither man mentioned runner-up City Controller Wendy Greuel, who will face Garcetti in the May 21 general election, but Garcetti took a swipe at her support from a deep-pocketed city union.
"You see, we're going to knock on doors. We're not going to depend on the DWP union to buy this race," he said, referring to the union representing many workers from the city Department of Water and Power that has spent heavily to back Greuel's bid. "We're going to talk about fixing our city's budget and standing up for taxpayers, not the downtown power brokers."
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It's unclear what effect Pleitez's support will have on the contest between Garcetti and Greuel. Pleitez received just 12,000 votes in the March 5 primary, so his support has not been seen as being as valuable as that of Councilwoman Jan Perry or attorney Kevin James, who received more than 90,000 votes combined. But in a low-turnout election, which the May runoff is expected to be, every vote matters.
The 30-year-old Pleitez has an inspiring personal story. From his humble beginnings, he was raised by a single mother in South and East Los Angeles, he excelled academically, and worked in President Obama's administration and for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa before becoming a technology company executive.
Pleitez's shoe-string campaign gained a measure of credibility after he raised enough money to qualify for city matching funds. He often joined with Republican James in attacking City Hall veterans Garcetti, Greuel and Perry for the city's financial problems.
But Pleitez has never held elected office and lacked a voter base. He waged an unconventional campaign based on data-mining while seeking out voters in the city's poorest neighborhoods. He never raised enough money to advertise heavily on television, so he tried unusual methods of attracting attention, notably running and bicycling 100 miles across the city.
He also sought to undermine Garcetti's support, notably by filing two ethics complaints against the longtime councilman. One questioned Garcetti's vote on a legal settlement with a billboard company when he owned a small number of shares of a subsidiary, and the other argued that he violated disclosure rules by failing to report his ownership interest in a Beverly Hills property.
On Saturday, Pleitez brushed aside those matters, saying that he was no longer pursuing the complaints.
"I'm backing off. We've talked through all of our differences, and we have differences, but I think it's important for people to move past the campaign cycle, and now it's a new campaign," he said. "But what I'm more excited about is after May 21 because we're going to take the city in a new direction, and we're going to help the city realize its potential, and Eric's the right person for that."