TOPICS > Politics

New L.A. Mayor: James Hahn

June 6, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT


JEFFREY KAYE: At a celebration last night, LA City Attorney James Hahn thanked neighborhoods across Los Angeles as essential for his mayoral victory.

JAMES HAHN: Thank you to every great part of this great city — from San Pedro, to Sylmar, from Westchester to Boil Heights.

JEFFREY KAYE: His defeated opponent, former California speaker Antonio Villaraigosa said that despite defeat, both he and the city had benefited from his unsuccessful campaign.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: When you run a campaign of hope and you run a campaign to bring people together, you’re enriched by the experience. I have no tears here.

JEFFREY KAYE: The conciliatory tone of both candidates was in sharp contrast to the heated rhetoric and charges made in the last weeks of the campaign. (ad) Hahn drew criticism after running ads denouncing Villaraigosa’s 1996 request to pardon of a drug dealer whose father was a campaign contributor. The ad resonated with voters.

CARRIE GARCIA, Voter: There were some things about the other candidate Villaraigosa that I really didn’t like hearing and I wasn’t too fond of.

JEFFREY KAYE: Like what?

CARRIE GARCIA: Some of the scandal with the whole taking the money from a drug dealer – you know — things like that for his campaigns.

JEFFREY KAYE: Political scientist Raphael Sonenshein says Hahn’s negative campaigning proved decisive.

RAPHAEL SONENSHEIN: It put Villaraigosa on the defensive the entire campaign where in effect he was arguing against the Hahn campaign throughout the whole campaign and he wasn’t able to ever make Hahn the subject of debate and attack.

JEFFREY KAYE: On substance, there was little that separated the two candidates – both Democrats. The key to victory was coalition building in a city where no racial or ethnic groups hold a majority. The importance of coalitions was reflected in Hahn’s victory speech last night.

JAMES HAHN: Our campaign put together a coalition as diverse as this great city. We had Asian Pacific islanders, African Americans, Latinos, Anglos, Indo-Americans, Pakistani -Americans, Armenians, we had Democrats, Republicans and independents too. (Applause)

JEFFREY KAYE: Most of Hahn’s support came from an unusual combination of moderate and conservative whites, as well as older African Americans who remember Hahn’s late father, a popular elected official and civil rights advocate.

SPOKESPERSON: Do you have two to three minutes to answer some questions? Great.

JEFFREY KAYE: The Los Angeles Times exit polls suggest that both candidates cobbled together formidable coalitions. Sonenshein was a consultant to the LA Times poll.

JEFFREY KAYE: Who was able to bridge racial divides?

RAPHAEL SONENSHEIN: Ironically, it was the losing candidate. Villaraigosa had the stronger coalition. It was Latino voters Jewish voters to a certain degree but mostly liberal white voters who had a lot in common politically with Latinos in this election. The Hahn coalition, by contrast, was African Americans and white moderates and conservatives who have very little in common politically, so it’s not a broad bridging coalition. It was really two separate cases made to two different groups for very different reasons.

JEFFREY KAYE: Villaraigosa’s main support came from the city’s mushrooming Latino population. Latinos turned out yesterday in record numbers to support his candidacy. Antonio Villaraigosa received some 75% of the Latino vote:

RAPHAEL SONENSHEIN: The fact that Antonio Villaraigosa lost shouldn’t on cure the fact that the Latino rise from 8% of the vote 8 years ago to 22% of the vote in the Tuesday election is a revolution that has created vast new opportunities for cross cutting coalitions — some liberal and conservative some white led Latino led and black led that it’s going to take many years to sort out.

JEFFREY KAYE: This morning Hahn stressed a commitment reaching out to communities that didn’t support him at the polls.

JAMES HAHN: I have had a lot of friends in the Latino community over the years but and I didn’t get the lion’s share of the vote but I have always done very well in the community and I think that people know that the campaign is over. We need to all build bridges towards each other. I’m confident that people will see that Jim Hahn is somebody who will bring the city together.

JEFFREY KAYE: The Hahn political name became something of a dynasty yesterday. Not only was James Hahn elected mayor, his sister also won a seat on the LA City Council. The victorious candidates take office July 1.