The Los Angeles teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, defeated a combined effort by several other labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other public sector unions, in the city’s mayoral election Tuesday. The final tally of votes means that Eric Garcetti, a Rhodes scholar and city councilman, will take office as the first Jewish major of Los Angeles, replacing Antonio Villaraigosa on July 1.
The mayoral runoff was an ugly one, as Democrat-aligned unions clashed for control of the city’s highest office. As citizens grumbled over the negative campaigning and the poor quality of the candidates–“They both stink,” one told the Los Angeles Times, in a typical comment–the media fretted over the massive cost of the contest, as unions and outside groups poured millions of dollars into a race with low turnout and little public interest.
Garcetti received 54% of the vote and declared victory in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. The last Republican in the race was defeated in an earlier round of voting, leaving the final contest a strictly blue-vs.-blue affair. The teachers’ union managed to capitalize on frustration after years of struggle with outgoing major Villaraigosa, whose enduring achievement will be suppressing a vote at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.