LOS ANGELES – Candidates for mayor canvassed the city Sunday, often crossing paths with one another, as they sought to rally last-minute support two days before voters go to the polls.
Mayor James Hahn (search), the first incumbent in three decades in danger of losing his job, visited a string of black churches in South Los Angeles, an area that helped put him in office four years ago.
City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa (search), who is trying to become the first Hispanic mayor in modern times, made the rounds in the same neighborhood, where residents were angered last month by the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old boy authorities said was driving a stolen car.
"I want a Police Department that not only protects our community, but respects it as well," Hahn said, drawing an outburst of applause.
Former state Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (search) spent part of the day courting the Jewish vote at a popular deli.
It was there that he bumped into Hahn, who was also greeting voters. The two reportedly decided against splitting a pastrami sandwich before moving on to a nearby farmers market, where they campaigned simultaneously among hordes of shoppers.
At a Catholic church, Villaraigosa found himself standing just a few feet from still another candidate, City Councilman Bernard Parks (search). The two exchanged a cordial handshake.
In essence, the major candidates in Tuesday's nonpartisan election are fighting for two spots in a likely May 17 runoff. Because of a crowded field of 12 candidates, analysts say its unlikely anyone will capture more than 50 percent of the vote and win outright on Tuesday.
Polls show Hahn is struggling to hold together key elements of the coalition that elected him in 2001 — blacks from South Los Angeles and moderate-to-conservative white voters in the San Fernando Valley.
Hahn's decision in 2002 to deny a second term as police chief to Parks alienated many of his black supporters. His successful campaign to defeat a ballot measure that would have allowed the San Fernando Valley to secede from Los Angeles also alienated supporters there.