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Tuttle Savors Controller Victory, Thanks the Mayor

Times Staff Writer

A day after his triumph at the polls, Rick Tuttle arrived Wednesday at City Hall to outline his plans as Los Angeles’ new city controller and to thank a man who helped get him the job.

Tuttle met privately with Mayor Tom Bradley to thank him for his endorsement and chose the mayor’s conference room for his first press briefing since defeating Studio City attorney Dan Shapiro 54% to 46% in Tuesday’s lone race for citywide office.

Tuttle and Shapiro were relative unknowns vying for a relatively obscure office until Tuttle emerged during the waning days of the campaign with a direct mail blitz and radio commercials that blanketed city households.

In his first bid for citywide office, Tuttle, a 45-year-old community college trustee, depended heavily on endorsements from elected officials, especially Bradley. And his strategy worked to such an extent that instead of the close race that both sides had envisioned, Tuttle came away with a convincing victory.

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The Shapiro camp attributed its loss to two key factors: Tuttle’s ability to raise more money in the runoff--after having been outspent in the primary--and Bradley’s popularity with voters, especially in black communities.

“The mayor went out on the limb,” said Rick Taylor, Shapiro’s campaign manager. “He did virtually more for Tuttle than he has done for any other candidate (in the past). Rick owes his election to the mayor.”

At his news conference, Tuttle admitted that Bradley’s support “was a very important part” of his winning campaign. He insisted, however, that the mayor’s backing was only part of a broader range of support.

In the last days of the campaign, Bradley’s familiar face could be seen on tens of thousands of pro-Tuttle postcards and placards. Copies of newspaper articles reporting his endorsement were distributed in neighborhoods. Computerized letters signed by Bradley flooded Democratic households. And Tuttle’s saturation radio commercials, featuring Bradley and aimed at a predominantly black audience, urged voters to go to the polls.

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A breakdown of the votes showed that the strategy paid off. Shapiro won in council districts in the San Fernando Valley, but Tuttle had a nearly a 5-1 margin in three council districts--the 8th, 9th and 10th--with large black populations.

Guiding Light

Tuttle’s campaign was run by the firm of Berman-D’Agostino Campaigns Inc. The Westside consulting firm is associated with the Berman-Waxman organization, an influential Democratic group founded by Reps. Howard Berman of Studio City and Henry Waxman of Los Angeles. That organization’s reputation also stood to be tarnished by a Tuttle loss.

In the city attorney’s race in April, the Berman-Waxman organization saw its candidate--Lisa Specht--defeated by James K. Hahn, the current controller. Tuttle also finished behind Shapiro as both men made the runoffs.

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Ann Hollister, who managed the Specht campaign and then took over Tuttle’s general election bid, insisted that the situation did not put additional pressure on the campaign. She added, however, that Tuttle strategists were pessimistic about his chances until they realized that Shapiro was not going to supplement his television campaign with a direct mail effort.

The Tuttle campaign also received some late donations and loans--$40,000 was reported on Monday alone--that were used to pay for additional voter turnout efforts.

$65,000 in Debt

In the end, Tuttle said his campaign has left him about $65,000 in debt. Shapiro spent nearly $150,000 of his own money, plus $125,000 from his father in both the primary and general elections.

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All told, Shapiro reported raising about $400,000, most of it during the primary campaign. Tuttle reported raising about $250,000 in the general election and $170,000 in the primary.

At his news conference Wednesday, Tuttle told reporters that, as controller, he will be “looking hard” at ways to strengthen the office’s auditing capabilities and to speed audits of city departments. He said he will step down from his community college seat on July 1, when he takes over as controller.


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