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The months-long contest that ultimately boiled down to a grudge match between two liberal Democrats, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel, also has had a consistently intriguing backstory in Hollywood’s historically unprecedented role in the race.
The entertainment industry traditionally disdains local politics, preferring to devote its high-wattage star endorsements and generous campaign contributions to national candidates and causes. Both Greuel and Garcetti, however, have deep, long-standing ties to Hollywood. She worked as a high-level executive at DreamWorks and he has represented geographic Hollywood and its industries on the council. Both tapped their network of film, television and music industry friends for fundraising, endorsements and contributions.
Greuel, in particular, benefited from early contributions of $50,000 each by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg to an independent expenditure committee supporting her candidacy. The role of those “independent” committees, which have become a fixture on the national scene, was the campaign’s other big backstory. Organized labor—and, particularly, unions representing city employees—was the big giver to those committees, but Hollywood, too, played a substantial part.
By the time the polls close tonight, a record of more than $32 million will have been spent on this mayoral campaign so that the winner could secure the backing of less than a quarter of a million voters. More than $1 million of that went to Garcetti and $967,290 to Greuel. Hollywood was her second biggest source of contributions after the unions.
Among the Hollywood executives and personalities who endorsed or raised money for Garcetti were ex-Disney chief Michael Eisner, Salma Hayek, Moby, Antonio Banderas and Jimmy Kimmel. Greuel had the backing not only of the powerful DreamWorks troika, but also J.J. Abrams, Magic Johnson and CAA agent Michael Kives.
The controller also enjoyed the support of former President Bill Clinton, who appeared on her behalf and was featured on Election Day in a city-wide robo call, urging voters to go to the polls and cast their ballots for her. Garcetti, who was an early supporter of Barack Obama and worked enthusiastically in both the President’s campaigns, was endorsed by Obama political guru David Axelrod. He also took a page from the Obama playbook and waged the campaign across the Internet.
On Election Day, for example, voters on various campaign lists received a personal email from the candidate and one from Sony senior VP Eric Paquette, Garcetti’s campaign finance chairman, reading: “For the past 615 days Eric Garcetti has been talking with the people of Los Angeles about the future of this city and why he should be the next mayor. He has handled his campaign with a sense of class, great judgment and sound fiscal discipline. He has made every single person associated with his campaign, whether a volunteer or donor, proud to be part of it. The last 2 polls show him up, but they are meaningless if people don’t vote. Please show your support and head out to the polls today.”
Both candidates will be crisscrossing the city today in a flurry of last minute campaigning, so if you’ve already voted and are weary of political pitches, delis—Art’s, Langer’s—and burger joints—the Apple Pan, Original Tommy’s—might be good places to avoid.
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