Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, now into his third year in office and facing what is shaping up as a tough re-election bid, is not that kind of pol. He is friendly enough, but otherwise aloof and detached. When I've seen him at events, banquets and the like, he seems to prefer going only lightly noticed, a strange trait for the mayor of the second-largest city in the most populous state of the most powerful country on earth. Los Angeles, City of the Stars, has a mayor who shrugs off the spotlight.
Four years ago, he was the toast of the Jewish world, the favorite son who became a symbol of opportunity for American Jews in the United States.
But when he went out on his own this time around, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) failed to catch on as a top-tier candidate.
Who says politics and religion don't mix? Modern Orthodox Jews eager to capitalize and promote the campaign are selling yarmulkes that say "Lieberman 2004 President."
Aping the famous Army recruitment commercials, the mayoral candidates have all urged Los Angeles to "be all you can be." But City Attorney James Hahn, ostensibly the one shoo-in for the run-off election in June, has come up with a novel approach to realizing his own mayoral ambitions -- by being the people's second choice. Hahn knows that outside of his base constituency within the African American community, few people are genuinely fired up about his candidacy. But that's okay, he says, because only one of his rivals is going to win the primary in April. And the people who supported the others, often with great passion and fervor, will most likely transfer their allegiance to their second-choice candidate -- himself. It's a strange race, to be sure, and its Aesopian undertones may well inspire future tales of "The Tortoise and the Hahn." Still, at press time Hahn's lead over Steve Soboroff and Antonio Villaraigosa had narrowed -- and while Hahn shares the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times with Villaraigosa, the Valley-based Daily News has endorsed Soboroff.
Just 18 months after Benjamin Netanyahu was voted out of office, public opinion polls show that he would decimate Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a head-to-head contest -- if Netanyahu can only get around the legal obstacles to his candidacy.