Could Wendy Greuel's love affair with labor backfire in Valley?

The controller's strong union support in the mayor's race might turn off the conservative voters she courted when she was on the council.

The long-running love-in between Wendy Greuel and public employee unions continued Tuesday, with the mayoral candidate from the San Fernando Valley bagging an endorsement from the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Which raises a question:

Is Greuel's labor embrace going to backfire with Valley conservatives, whose votes she might need in order to beat Eric Garcetti in the May 21 runoff?

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

"I think you're going to find that a majority of conservatives will not vote in that race," said Gary Aminoff of the San Fernando Valley Conservatives Meetup Group, an offshoot of the Valley GOP club.

Let's face it. This election is a nightmare for a true conservative in Los Angeles. Kevin James, the lawyer and radio show host who wanted to wring the necks of labor bosses, came in third in the March 5 primary.

So that leaves us with Eric Garcetti, who conservatives consider pinker than the new benches in Grand Park, and Greuel, who's starting to sound like the reincarnation of Woody Guthrie and has compared Garcetti to Scott Walker, the Republican Wisconsin governor who tried to crush labor in his state.

L.A. ELECTIONS 2013: Sign up for our email newsletter

"Which one is worse than the other?" asked Peggy Christensen, a Granada Hills resident and member of the conservative meet-up group. "I hate to give either one of them my vote."

Like Aminoff, Christensen voted for James in the primary. She didn't promise she'd vote for either of the runoff candidates, but said she'd begin taking a closer look at Greuel and Garcetti to see "if there's a discernible difference."

There is, as a matter of fact.

Greuel this week told my colleague David Zahniser that if elected, she'd go back to the bargaining table on a pension reform deal agreed to last fall by Garcetti, the City Council and mayor and expected to save the city $4 billion over the next 30 years.

Say what? City officials, looking at budget deficits from here to eternity, tweaked the package a bit for future employees, and Greuel wants to reopen the discussion?

Greuel called me Tuesday afternoon to reemphasize that she supports the plan to raise the retirement age for new employees from 55 to 65 and to eliminate healthcare benefits for spouses of retired city workers.

"I completely support pension reforms," she told me. "I would not roll them back, and I think we can do more."

But she said the city imposed those changes without fairly bargaining for them, and she fears a union lawsuit because of it.

Well maybe, but it sure sounds like she's trying to have it both ways. Greuel, a former Republican, has appealed to moderates and conservative voters by trumpeting her mission to root out waste, fraud and abuse. But on the other hand, she's clearly the winner of this year's labor lottery.

"I can tell you that conservatives recognize her for who she is," Aminoff said.

And who is that?

"She is a left-wing, big-government, public employee-supporting politician."