Just about everything went wrong and ugly for Jim Hahn leading into this week's city primary -- except the outcome. The result itself wasn't exactly a winner either, but it was close enough. The incumbent mayor barely scraped past energetic third-place finisher Bob Hertzberg, making it into a May runoff to keep his job.
First place went to Eastside City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa --just as pre-election polls predicted. Without a Villaraigosa collapse, the drama centered on the joust between Hahn and Hertzberg, the former state Assembly speaker who'd risen in recent weeks to a virtual tie with Hahn in some polls. Hahn's second-place finish means that he and Villaraigosa will face off just as they did when Hahn bested Villaraigosa in 2001.
For most L.A. City Council members, the March municipal election is less a race than a stroll in the park. Mayor Jim Hahn faces four serious challengers, but just before the December filing deadline, it seemed that the only serious council race was in the Westside's 11th District, where newbies Flora Krisiloff and Bill Rosendahl are squared off to replace Cindy Miscikowski, who has been forced out by term limits.
So whaddaya know? The election is over, we've got a new mayor, and no sign yet of the apocalypse the other candidates promised would befall this city, no matter who won. Newly minted 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry knew it was a new day when, shortly after her own election, Jim Hahn called to extend his own congratulations.
Several months before he publicly announced his candidacy, Jim Hahn and I met for lunch. As is typical of our conversations that have spanned the years I have lived and served here, we concentrated on what needs to be done to improve the lives of all our diverse peoples.