As the mayoral candidates crossed the two-month mark until the runoff election, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti are struggling with a bit of a paradox -- the two long-time, pro-labor Democrats are jockeying over which of them is more likely to stand up to city-employee union demands.
Both candidates have labor backing, but the most influential and deep-pocketed unions have thrown their support behind Greuel. That has resulted in a political dynamic few expected -- Greuel has emerged as the de facto labor candidate while Garcetti has been painted as a union nemesis.
Greuel has been forced on the defense as some of her business backers grew uncomfortable with recent statements she made about city employee retirement benefits. On Thursday, Greuel responded to questions from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, affirming her support for making new cuts in pension costs and assuring them that she has no interest in challenging any of the reductions in benefits that have already been approved.
Garcetti and Greuel appeared together Thursday night for the first time since winning runoff spots in the March 5 primary. A swanky benefit for diabetes research at the Beverly Hilton was billed as a roast of Councilman Tom LaBonge, but most eyes were focused on the mayoral candidates. Greuel and Garcetti poked barbs at each other while they poked fun at themselves.