One-time mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez endorsed Councilman Eric Garcetti over the weekend, saying he is the best choice to create jobs and fix the city's budget woes.
Standing next to Garcetti in the Westlake neighborhood on Saturday, Pleitez also said he was inspired by the councilman's backers, who are "about action."
"Eric has vision, he has a record, and he's got amazing people with him. that's what compelled me the most -- Eric's supporters," Pleitez said. "I want to be part of that team."
A longshot in the mayor's race, Pleitez finished fifth in the March 5 primary, with about 4 percent of the overall vote, with Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel qualifying for the May 21 runoff.
An East L.A. native, Pleitez had scant funding -- but raised enough to qualify for city matching funds -- and ran a grassroots, sometimes unorthodox campaign. The former tech executive campaigned heavily in Latino neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, walking door to door to win over voters.
He also jogged and biked 100 miles across the city in the final days of the primary.
Garcetti told the crowd he was inspired by Pleitez's campaign style. "There's a real spark in this guy," Garcetti said, embracing his former rival. "I welcome Team Pleitez to Team Garcetti," he added.
Garcetti and Greuel are both courting the endorsements of all the primary candidates, including City Councilwoman Jan Perry and Republican Kevin James.
For Garcetti, the Pleitez endorsement could translate into more Latino support. Pleitez collected just 11,700 votes in the race, but that is larger than the 10,000-vote margin that separated Greuel and Garcetti in the primary.
During the campaign, Pleitez targeted Garcetti in a bid to pull Latino voters away from the councilman. Garcetti is part-Mexican and is fluent in Spanish. Pleitez filed two separate
ethics complaints against Garcetti. One concerned a billboard vote, the other an oil lease formerly held by Garcetti.
On Saturday, he said he'd moved beyond those complaints. "We have worked out our differences," he said.
Garcetti also picked up the endorsement of City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the city's Budget and Finance Committee, and represents the Valley seat formerly held by Greuel. Krekorian called Garcetti the best choice to make the hard decisions needed to fix the city's budget.
Like Garcetti, Krekorian railed against the powerful Department of Water and Power union during his own, successful 2009 council seat run against former film executive Chris Essel.
The Department of Water and Power's union spent more than $240,000 backing Essel in that race. The union is part of a group spending nearly $2 million on Greuel.
On Monday, Garcetti said that Krekorian "showed that elections aren't for sale."
For her part, Greuel won the backing of Emily's List, a pro-choice Democratic national group that supports female political candidates.
She also picked up the endorsement of former state Assemblymember and newly elected Los Angeles Community College District Trustee Mike Eng. Eng's wife, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, also has endorsed Greuel. ___