Voters oust Carmen Trutanich as city attorney

May 21, 2013|By Abby Sewell, Laura J. Nelson and Jean Merl
  • Mike Feuer and Carmen Trutanich
Mike Feuer and Carmen Trutanich (Los Angeles Times )

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich was defeated in his bid for reelection by former Assemblyman Mike Feuer.

Trutanich announced his concession about 11:30 p.m.

[Updated at 11:45 p.m. At Rocco's Tavern in Studio City, he thanked supporters and attorneys. The crowd chanted, "Nuch! Nuch! Nuch!"

"I ran for city attorney for all the right reasons, to be the people's lawyer," Trutanich said. He spoke of his rise from working-class roots in San Pedro and the accomplishments of the city attorney's office in his tenure.

Trutanich declined to comment Tuesday on the reasons for his defeat.]

The mood was upbeat at Feuer’s election-night party at a Hancock Park home, where about 200 supporters gathered to watch returns. Several past and present officeholders stopped by, including state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and former L.A. City Councilman Greig Smith.

In the contest to be the city’s top lawyer, Trutanich, 61, faced hurdles to hang on to his job despite the usual advantage of incumbency. One problem was his decision to run for L.A. County district attorney last year, breaking an earlier promise not to seek another office until serving two terms at City Hall.

His opponents pounded him on the broken pledge; when he failed to make the district attorney runoff, he switched gears and announced that he would run again for his current post.

By then, Feuer, 55, a former city councilman who finished his allowable three terms in the state Assembly last year, was hard at work raising money and lining up endorsements.

Trutanich never caught up in fundraising. He finished 14 percentage points behind Feuer in the March primary and had trailed in every independent poll since.

The race quickly heated up. Trutanich belittled Feuer’s lack of criminal trial experience and called him a “career politician looking for his next job.” Feuer said Trutanich had the wrong priorities and needlessly antagonized other officials, undercutting the office’s effectiveness.

The two candidates or their supporters filed numerous complaints against one another with the city Ethics Commission, charges that were still unresolved on election day.

A Trutanich ally filed a lawsuit accusing Feuer and his election consultant of conspiring to hide the true cost of the campaign to collect public taxpayer funds.

Feuer denied the allegations and called the suit “frivolous” and the work of a “desperate” campaign.

In one especially nasty mailer, the Trutanich campaign pasted Feuer’s face on a photo of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s bike-racing body and, for political insiders, plastered his consultant’s face on that of another cyclist. “Some men will lie, cheat and steal to finish the race first,” the mailer said.

Feuer, whose career has included pushing to reform politics, offered himself to voters as someone who has always lived by high ethical standards.


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