Opinion: March 3 elections firm up


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So is there a mayor’s race or isn’t there? There is, according to the dozens of people streaming into Walter Moore’s Wilshire Boulevard campaign headquarters Saturday, an hour after the deadline had past to take out nominating papers for the March 3, 2009 city election. There’s not, according to most news coverage. The gist of the headlines: No Rick Caruso, no race.

Caruso, the billionaire developer of Americana at Brand, the Grove at Farmers Market and other Disneyish powermalls, toyed with the public for several weeks after letting it be known that he just might be the one to take on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Then on Friday, the day before the deadline for taking out nominating papers, he said the city would have to do without him for this election cycle.


Backers of Moore, shown here at his headquarters Saturday, grumbled that their candidate was being ignored. How come? Do the newspapers have it in for him?

The question brings up one of the eternal quandaries about news coverage of local elections. There’s no point in reporting on candidates who don’t have a chance. Why don’t they have a chance? No one takes them seriously. Why does no one take them seriously? Newspapers don’t cover them.

Some key factors to help be taken seriously: Be rich (either with your own money, or with campaign contributions). Be famous. Be the winner of a previous election.

Villaraigosa had all three going for him, plus a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the incumbent, when he challenged and defeated Mayor Jim Hahn four years ago. There is plenty of dissatisfaction now with Villaraigosa, but he cleared the field of its toughest potential competitors with several feverish and wildly successful bounts of fundraising. Now Moore, who finsihed sixth in 2005, is the closest thing the incumbent’s got to a real opponent.

Moore’s supporters bristle at that kind of talk, seeing it as disrespect for a candidate who has been running for the post for well over a year. But he has his work cut out for him.

The potential field of candidates was capped Saturday at noon, the deadline for taking out nominating papers. Check the link for the full list. Not all names there now will show up on the ballot; each candidate has until Dec. 3 to return their nominating petitions and qualifying signatures of eligible Los Angeles voters.