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Jewish Journal

L.A.‘s next Jewish mayor

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 8, 2011 | 6:13 pm

I’m trying to recall whether Los Angeles has ever had a Jewish mayor, and no name is coming to mind. Am I missing something?

Former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg was a legitimate candidate, but he lost to Antonio Villaraigosa. Then in 2008, Craig X. Rubin, who was raised Jewish before becoming the founder of Temple 420, was one of the few people to challenge Villaraigosa, though he never had a chance.

It’s starting to look very likely, though, that 2012 will be the year that a Jew is elected mayor of Los Angeles. For the second time today, here’s Jonah Lowenfeld reporting that will L.A. Councilman Eric Garcetti’s announcement today that he’s running for mayor, there are three Jews in the race and may be room for one more:

There’s Austin Beutner, Villaraigosa’s former “jobs czar,” who was recently asked by a blogger whether he went to church. “No, I’m Jewish,” Beutner said, “I was bar mitzvah’ed, but I don’t go. Oh, my wife is Protestant.”

And there’s L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who is the only African-American candidate in the race. She converted to Judaism almost 30 years ago.

Two non-Jews round out the current field: City Controller Wendy Gruel, who raised more than any other candidate in the first half of 2011 (over $518,000), is married to the Jewish film producer (“Darfur Now,”) Dean Schramm. Kevin James, the openly gay attorney and radio host, is the only Republican in the race.

The field could become even Jewy-er if Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky declares his candidacy. The former L.A. city councilman and one-time activist on behalf of Soviet Jewry will have to give up his current job in 2014 because of term limits.

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