Cory Booker Endorsement 'Symbol' Of Garcetti's African American Support
If no candidate successfully secures more than 50 percent of the votes in the March 5 primary, the top two voter-getters will face off to determine who succeeds Antonio Villaraigosa. Black voters accounted for about 15 percent of the electorate during Villaraigosa's victory in the 2005 race, and since former Mayor Tom Bradley, no candidate other than Richard Riordan has won a mayoral election without strong support from the African-American community. However, it would be misleading to assume African-Americans will tilt toward the same candidate, said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.
"There is no African-American voting bloc," Bebitch Jeffe said.
At a recent debate, Garcetti highlighted a racial equality agenda that included improving diversity and job training/apprenticeship programs. The 42-year-old scored probably his biggest endorsement from an African-American political figure yet after garnering the support of Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, a rising Democratic Party star and likely candidate for U.S. Senate.
Booker appeared at a Garcetti phone bank in South L.A. on Tuesday. The charismatic 43-year-old Newark mayor met Garcetti when both were Rhodes Scholars at Oxford and is "a symbol that Garcetti has African-American support," Bebitch Jeffe said.
"I don't think Cory Booker is there to motivate voters," she said. "But what he can do is send a signal that Jan Perry doesn't have the African-American vote locked up and Wendy Greuel doesn't have the African-American vote locked up. Cory Booker brings out the media because to the media, he is an interesting figure, which means Eric Garcetti gets free media exposure."
Greuel might have a bit more familiarity among African-American voters due to the 10 years she spent working as an aide to Bradley, the city's first black mayor, but it remains to be seen if those ties will bring black voters to her side.
"I don't think it's going to have a significant impact among younger voters," Bebitch Jeffe said. "I'm not sure if they know who Tom Bradley is. I don't think her embrace of Tom Bradley automatically brings her the Bradley coalition. I don't think it exists anymore."
Perry's decision on which remaining candidate to back can be a game-changing maneuver, should she fail to qualify for the runoff, which should explain why her opponents have been playing nice with her during the debates. Garcetti called Perry "a person who inspires me," while Greuel labeled her "someone who doesn't take no for an answer."
Despite whatever maneuvering the candidates might be involved in to court black voters, Bebitch Jeffe said turnout could be a bigger deciding factor.
"I'm not sure what the turnout is going to be, not just among African-American voters, but overall," she said.