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Mayor Keeps Eye on 2005 Campaign

Times Staff Writer

Although the vote is still two years away, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn prepared the ground for his reelection effort Thursday night, hosting a cocktail reception for 100 key supporters, many of whom are expected to raise $100,000 or more each for the campaign

The private event at the exclusive City Club atop a downtown high-rise was expected to be attended by many of the same major financial backers and city commissioners who helped fund Hahn’s election in 2001 as well as his successful campaign to defeat secession last year.

“This is the beginning of the reelection campaign,” said a close Hahn ally invited to the gathering. Hahn backers said it isn’t too soon to begin planning the campaign, even though no one has announced plans to challenge Hahn in the March 2005 election.

“It’s never too early,” said Kam Kuwata, a Hahn political strategist. “You have to prepare for anything.”

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Although the period in which candidates can legally begin fund-raising for the race began March 1, Hahn has not yet filed papers to establish a campaign committee and start asking for money, and the invitation to the reception does not specifically bill it as a reelection event.

“In appreciation of your support, Mayor James K. Hahn cordially invites you to a cocktail reception honoring the Mayor’s Executive Committee,” the invitation says.

Hahn supporters said the executive committee is an unofficial group of major backers, most of whom played a significant role in his 2001 election campaign and the anti-secession effort.

Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook would only say the event was “a private gathering of friends and supporters.”

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A top political advisor said the event was being held so Hahn could thank his supporters for their work in the past, talk about his future vision for the city and get his backers thinking about the campaign ahead.

The phone number to RSVP for the event is for the office of Annette Castro, a political consultant who handled fund-raising for Hahn’s anti-secession campaign. The invitation says it was paid for by L.A. United, the mayor’s anti-secession committee.

Hahn has shown himself in the past to be a prodigious fund-raiser, having brought in $6 million for his 2001 election and $6.2 million last year for his campaign to defeat the breakup of the city.

Hahn was also the first person to begin campaigning for the 2001 mayor’s race, launching his effort two years before that vote.

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Political scientist Fernando Guerra said it is important for Hahn to talk to his supporters about where his administration has gone and where it is going.

“I would think it’s a good way to get his top lieutenants focused on not only the politics, but also the policy issues,” said Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

Guerra said most observers believe potential candidates to challenge Hahn include City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, City Councilman Bernard Parks, state Sen. Richard Alarcon, Assemblyman Keith Richman and Councilman-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, although Villaraigosa has said he will not run in 2005, and none of the others has publicly said he is even thinking about a candidacy.


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