L.A. mayoral candidates raise more than $3 million for runoff

The Associated Press
Saturday May 26, 2001

LOS ANGELES — More than $3 million has been raised for the June 5 runoff by two mayoral candidates in the nation’s second-largest city, finance reports show. 

City Attorney James Hahn and former Assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa raised comparable sums during the period covered — the 38 days from the April 10 primary through May 19, according to reports released Thursday. 

“My God, that’s a lot of money to raise in a short period of time,” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, a California State University, Fullerton political scientist.  

“That explains why it’s been such a quiet campaign. The rhythm of the campaign has been partly dictated by money, and you should therefore expect an extremely intense finish after a relatively lethargic campaign.” 

Villaraigosa raised more than $1.7 million during that time, including city matching funds. Hahn raised more than $1.4 million including matching funds. 

City law dictates that candidates cannot carry over money from the primary but must start raising funds anew once the runoff begins.  

Faced with the burden of raising large sums in a short amount of time, the candidates have devoted large amounts of time to fund raising. 

Since the close of the reporting period, Villaraigosa has received additional contributions exceeding $100,000, and Hahn has raised another $51,000, according to the city Ethics Commission. 

Villaraigosa spent at a faster pace than Hahn during the reporting period, ending it with less cash on hand – $487,598, compared to $634,485 for Hahn. 

“What our reports shows is that we’ve had the funding consistently since the April primary to support our television communication efforts. We’ve been up on the air consistently for the last few weeks, whereas the Hahn campaign was forced to scale back,” said Stephen Kaufman, counsel and treasurer for Villaraigosa’s campaign. “The mere fact that we’ve spent more and have less just reflects that we’ve been able to pay for television in coming weeks.” 

A Los Angeles Times analysis of TV station billing documents last week found Villaraigosa had spent nearly twice as much as Hahn on the important medium and aired 41 percent more spots. 

“Yes, they are spending more than we are but we’re getting the proverbial better bang for our buck,” said Hahn consultant Kam Kuwata, saying the campaign has stretched its TV spending by buying shorter spots.  

“And in the close we are going to be obviously, given the cash on hand, very competitive with him.” 

Villaraigosa, who would be the city’s first Latino mayor since 1872, finished the April 10 primary in first place, with 30 percent of the vote. Hahn finished in second with 25 percent. Since then polls have shown a tight race. 

With the pace of fund raising likely to increase as the election date approaches, the candidates could be on track to break the record for money raised in a city runoff.  

That was set in 1993, when Mayor Richard Riordan, then a little-known businessman, poured millions of his own money into the race to defeat Mike Woo. The total amount spent in the runoff that year was $8,357,597. 

There was no runoff in 1997, when Riordan was elected to his second term. Term limits prevented him from running in this election. 

Villaraigosa and Hahn also were among the highest-spending candidates in the April 10 primary, during which the leading six candidates spent more than $17 million, the most ever for a city primary.