Experts, students analyze city primary election results
Posted March 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm in News
With Tuesday‚Äôs Los Angeles mayoral primary over, runoff candidates Councilmember Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel must seek endorsements, experts said during a weekly political panel on Wednesday in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
The Student Talk Back discussion, hosted by the USC Dornsife College‚Äôs Jesse M. Unruh Institute, the USC Price Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and the USC Price Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and Public Enterprise,¬† featured four panelists and was moderated by local political strategist Matt Rodriguez and Daily Trojan News Editor Yasmeen Serhan. Tuesday‚Äôs election resulted in Greuel and Garcetti advancing to the run-off election on May 21. Garcetti won 33 percent of the primary election vote and Greuel garnered 29 percent of the vote.
Panelists said Garcetti and Greuel‚Äôs must appeal to undecided voters in the next 11 weeks of the campaign. USC College Democrats President Aaron Taxy said that both Garcetti and Greuel will must vie for voters who previosly supported James Kevin and Jan Perry.
‚ÄúThirty-three percent of the electorate is undecided,‚ÄĚ Taxy said. ‚ÄúEndorsements from Perry and James will be very important in determining who ultimately becomes the next mayor.‚ÄĚ
All panelists agreed that endorsements ‚ÄĒ not issue positions ‚ÄĒ would be the deciding factor in the mayoral race.
‚ÄúAs we move forward, voters aren‚Äôt going to be as concerned with where Garcetti and Greuel stand on the issues, largely because they share many of the same positions,‚ÄĚ said Communications and Media Relations Director for the Los Angeles Unified School District Thomas Waldman. ‚ÄúWhat matters now is who will be supporting whom, and whether you like that candidate or not.‚ÄĚ
Waldman said an endorsement from outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be a distinctive factor in Garcetti or Greuel winning the election.
‚ÄúIf I were one of the candidates, I would be actively trying to get the mayor‚Äôs endorsement,‚ÄĚ Waldman said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs leaving office fairly popular and, as the first Latino mayor, that endorsement would be huge.‚ÄĚ
The group also acknowledged the importance of reformed fiscal measures, education and public safety in their discussion. Sam Garrison, vice president of civic initiatives for Caruso Affiliated, a Los Angeles real estate developer,¬† said that whoever becomes the city‚Äôs next leader will face a $220 million budget deficit.
‚ÄúBoth Garcetti and Greuel have managed to avoid answering a lot of the questions on that issue so far,‚ÄĚ Garrison said. ‚ÄúThe next 11 weeks should get interesting.‚ÄĚ
Panelists also discussed the low voter turnout on Tuesday. Barely 16 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls, a reality that some attributed to ‚Äúvoter fatigue‚ÄĚ following the 2012 presidential election.
‚ÄúWith such low turnout numbers, the defining characteristic of the rest of this campaign will be which candidate is better able to identify his or her base and get them to show up on election day,‚ÄĚ said Andrew Murcia, a USC College Republicans member.
Laura Coholan, a junior majoring in political science, responded positively toward the expertise on the panel.
‚ÄúIt was helpful to hear from the panelists because now, as I hear about who gets what endorsements, I‚Äôll have a better sense of how the race is going to turn out,‚ÄĚ Coholan said. ‚ÄúHopefully, the runoff election will feature a greater turnout … even 20 percent would be nice.‚ÄĚ