I grew up in Los Angeles. My parents still live in the same home in which I was raised on the Westside. I have an affinity for the city that was my home for nearly half of my life. After watching with gross fascination for eight years as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has diminished the City of the Angels, both with his embrace of liberal public policies as well his fair share of scandals, I was ready for a new mayor, one that could lead the city back from the brink.
I endorsed Republican Kevin James in his bid for Mayor, penning a full-throated column in support of him on this website. On issue after issue that matters to the fiscal well being of the second largest city in our nation, James took the strong stands for fiscal restraint, budget reform, pension reform and more. I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore, but my folks do and they voted for James. Alas, he fell far short of what he needed to make the runoff, and the candidacy of Kevin James was no more, and the hope for sanity in city government faded with his departure from the race.
Unfortunately for Los Angelinos, and especially for the great many Republicans who live in the city, the two candidates who made the run-off for Mayor, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, are both terrible choices. Both of them are very liberal, are clearly comfortable with big government, and each are supported by a Rogue’s Gallery of iconic liberals. Or maybe put another way, there is frankly nothing about either of them to appeal to moderate, conservative or libertarian voters. Both candidates tout on their respective websites how they will use big government to foster job creation — a start contrast to James who advocated getting government out of the way. Unfortunately for voters who agreed with James’ point of view, the two candidates left standing are nothing like him.
But, that’s not what you may be led to believe if you are a Republican voter in Los Angeles. You see, Kevin James decided to throw his convictions and principles to the wind, and endorse lefty Eric Garcetti for Mayor — in doing so virtually guaranteeing that James’ name and image will be used in a campaign to GOP voters, trying to mislead those voters into casting a ballot for someone who pretty much rejects everything that a Republican voter would be for. Do you think that Garcetti’s mail will be filled with rhetoric from James, saying, “It was really hard for me to endorse Garcetti, because he mostly sucks, but since Greuel completely sucks, I did it” – ? I think it is more likely we’ll see a more generous quote, one designed to give his seal of approval to someone who does not share his value system. “Garcetti will be an independent voice…”
So who are some of Garcetti’s prominent supporters? Let’s see if you recognize some of them — Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Former LG Cruz Bustamante, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, former CDP Chairman Art Torres, former Congressman Mel Levine, andnd the list goes on with dozens of Democrat legislators, and nearly two dozen partisan Democrat groups and organizations around Los Angeles. For good measure let’s not forget about Van Jones, Michael Eisner and the Sierra Club. Garcetti also enjoys considerable support from a number of public employee unions, and for good measure the National Organization for Women, California. Even the Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed Garcetti!
I “get it” that in a runoff, perhaps there is a motivation to try and pick one of the horses that are still left in the race. But at some point, a principled leader would need have to ask the obvious question, “Do either of these remaining candidates share enough of my core beliefs do deserve my endorsement? Can I honestly advocate to someone who voted for me that without question, there’s someone in the race that will pick up where I left off?” But that did not happen here. James tries to makes the case that Garcetti is more “independent” than Greuel, and notes that she has the lion’s share of support from the city’s large (and in-charge) public employee unions. But is silent on the vast array of issues where Garcetti is just an off-the-rails liberal.
Sadly I see James as a guy who boldly stood up and offered a real vision for Los Angeles who has just become another politician himself. Maybe it will work out for James – Garcetti wins and maybe taps him for a role in his administration. In the meantime, look for cynicism and eye-rolling to take place as the Garcetti campaign uses James as their messenger, no doubt assuring GOP voters that Garcetti is the right man for the job. But James’ sell out to the left is not without consequence. For my part, I have no interest in supporting James in the future, now that’s demonstrating a willingness to give a patina of fiscal restraint to a big spender and regulator like Garcetti. And I’ve heard similar rhetoric from other conservative leaders on this topic as well. It will be interesting, when the campaign is over, to ask my parents for whom they voted, if they bothered to vote at all.
If I lived in Los Angeles, I would probably write in this guy on my ballot for Mayor.