Wendy Greuel called Eric Garcetti early Wednesday morning to concede the mayoral election, a Greuel campaign source told The Times, ending a two-year campaign to determine Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s successor and the new political leader of Los Angeles.
Garcetti will be the first elected Jewish mayor of the city. At 42, he will also be the youngest in more than a century. He is scheduled to take office July 1.
“Thank you, Los Angeles,” Garcetti wrote in a tweet posted at 2:52 a.m. PDT. “The hard work begins but I am honored to lead this city for the next four years. Let’s make this a great city again.”
During early returns Tuesday, Greuel led the race by a slight margin. But as the night wore on, Garcetti’s lead grew. Election tallies from the city clerk’s office posted at 1:38 a.m., with nearly 73% of precincts reporting, showed Greuel had fallen 8 points behind Garcetti.
After seeing those numbers -- Greuel 46%, Garcetti 54% -- she called Garcetti at 1:42 a.m. to concede the race.
“It was positive,” the source, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, told The Times. Greuel told Garcetti, “Congratulations. You did a great job. I’ll officially concede tomorrow, but it looks like the results are in.”
Greuel is expected to officially concede the election in Van Nuys on Wednesday morning.
She had hoped that absentee ballots, which are sometimes counted later than ballots cast at polling places, could make a difference, the source said.
“When there was evidence that the absentees weren’t exactly as everyone thought, you begin to think, if that’s wrong, what else is wrong? You hold out, you wait for the results to come in and wait for the votes to be counted. That’s what Wendy Greuel did.”
Greuel was positive and upbeat and went into election day aware of the race’s contours, the campaign source said.
“The math tells you it’s going to be an uphill battle,” the source said. “So you prepare yourself, and that’s what she did.”
Garcetti, a city councilman, and Greuel, the city controller, were onetime City Council allies. Both raised in the San Fernando Valley, Garcetti and Greuel were vying to be the leader of a city of 3.8 million people that has only recently shown signs of lifting itself out of a five-year economic mire -- one that triggered perennial budget deficits, layoffs and cuts in basic services such as street paving and tree trimming.
After pushing past six other candidates in the March primary, Garcetti and Greuel leaned on large, unregulated spending by outside groups. Garcetti repeatedly criticized Greuel for the nearly $6 million that outside groups, including the union for Department of Water and Power workers, contributed to her campaign.
At $33 million, the mayoral campaign was the most expensive in city history. The flood of money and advertising from those groups largely went toward tearing down the two contenders, alienating many Angelenos who hadn’t already been left cold.
Garcetti spent three terms representing a district that includes Hollywood and Silver Lake.
As city budget deficits spiraled into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Garcetti -- then the council president -- was at the center of negotiations to balance the books. He helped persuade his council colleagues to agree to cutbacks, including reducing the city workforce, raising the retirement age for future civilian workers from 55 to 65 and increasing the amount employees pay toward pensions and healthcare.
Before she was elected controller, Greuel, 51, represented parts of the San Fernando Valley on the council for eight years.
She began her political career working in Mayor Tom Bradley’s office, worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and served as a political operative at DreamWorks SKG.
In the primary, Greuel and Garcetti defeated three serious but underfunded contenders -- Republican radio host and attorney Kevin James, Councilwoman Jan Perry and technology executive Emanuel Pleitez. All three endorsed Garcetti.