Wachs Favors Hahn in Race for City Attorney

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs, who two months ago passed up a good chance of becoming city attorney so he could concentrate on a loftier goal, endorsed Controller James K. Hahn for the job on Monday.

Wachs, a Republican, endorsed Hahn in the nonpartisan city attorney contest, contending that Hahn, a Democrat and a former deputy city attorney, is "the only major candidate who has prosecuted and effectively prosecuted criminal cases in the city of Los Angeles."

The councilman, an attorney by profession, also attacked Hahn's principal opponents, Westside attorney Lisa Specht and redevelopment attorney Murray Kane. He predicted that each well-financed candidate will "spend in excess of $1 million pretending that they have the qualifications . . . but the fact is the experience is not there."

"One of the reasons I decided not to run is because I know that I was not a prosecutor," Wachs said, adding that Hahn, in addition to his experience as a deputy city attorney, has run a major city department.

Wachs probably would have been a front-runner in the race to succeed Ira Reiner, who is now county district attorney. But the councilman said in early January that he wanted instead to wait and some day run for mayor.

Wachs said he is supporting Hahn over two fellow Republicans, Deputy City Attys. Charles Zinger and Betsy Mogul, because "I don't think they have a chance to win."

"I like Charlie Zinger personally," Wachs said. "Frankly, last time (Zinger ran in 1981) I voted for him in the primary, but I just think that's a totally unrealistic candidacy in the dynamics of this race."

Wachs' endorsement of Hahn brings to nine the number of council members backing one candidate or another in the city attorney's race. Also backing Hahn are council members Joan Milke Flores, Gilbert Lindsay and Howard Finn. Backing Specht are council members Pat Russell, Joy Picus, Zev Yaroslavsky, Marvin Braude and Hal Bernson.

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