Mayor Tom Bradley endorsed Los Angeles Community College District trustee Rick Tuttle for city controller on Thursday, saying Tuttle’s experience dealing with financial problems in the nine-campus system has made him the best-prepared candidate for the job.
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, the mayor said he is backing Tuttle, a 45-year-old UCLA administrator, because of his “exposure to the whole process of how to protect and make use of public money.”
The endorsement gives Tuttle, who finished second in the April election behind Studio City lawyer Dan Shapiro, a boost as campaigning and fund-raising picks up for the June 4 runoff.
Tuttle, who has the backing of the influential Westside-based Democratic political organization headed by Reps. Howard Berman of Los Angeles and Henry Waxman of Studio City, also has lined up the endorsement of Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner. Reiner, a former city controller, transformed the low-visibility office into a launching pad to higher office.
Responding to reporters, Bradley rejected the suggestion that his endorsement of Tuttle may be part of a fence-mending effort with leaders of the Berman-Waxman organization, who created a political stir during the mayoral election by delaying their traditional endorsement of Bradley.
Opposition to the mayor’s decision to permit oil drilling in Pacific Palisades and concerns that a second Bradley bid for governor in 1986 could damage the Democratic ticket reportedly were behind the foot-dragging.
The mayor said that his endorsement of Tuttle was unrelated and that reports of friction with the lawmakers were “much overblown.”
Shapiro, who has been a leader of a San Fernando Valley homeowners’ group, countered the mayor’s endorsement by pointing out that Bradley named him to head a special committee two years ago that studied how the city could reduce its budget.
“Two years ago, when the city was in its worst financial shape, the mayor selected Dan Shapiro to chair the committee,” said Rick Taylor, a political consultant handling Shapiro’s campaign. “We consider that to be the true endorsement.”
Taylor said a poll ordered several weeks ago by Shapiro showed that he was favored by 49% of the those who voted in the April election, that 31% favor Tuttle and that 20% were undecided.
Each candidate expects to raise about $250,000 for the runoff campaign.