Los Angeles mayor poll too close to call

Los Angeles councilman Eric Garcetti took a narrow lead in early results from a run-off election to succeed LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but the race remained too close to call early Wednesday.

Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel, both Democrats like Villaraigosa, campaigned down to the wire after emerging from a March primary poll contested by a total of eight candidates.

Shortly before midnight (0700 GMT Wednesday), four hours after polls closed, Garcetti had 51 percent of votes compared to 49 percent for Greuel, based on 14 percent of precincts reporting, according to the LA Times newspaper.

"No one said it was going to be easy or quick, but when you're playing the championship of LA politics, sometimes the game goes into overtime," Greuel told supporters at an election night event downtown.

"We know we're not going to know tonight, probably we're not going to know for awhile," she added.

Turnout was expected to be low, though it should be higher than the dismal 21 percent who voted in the primary in March.

Garcetti, whose showbiz links drew an endorsement from comic Will Ferrell, has an international background, having studied at Oxford University and the London School of Economics. The 42-year-old has Mexican and Jewish roots.

Greuel, 51, who spent five years at movie giant DreamWorks, faced questions during the campaign over financial backing from labor unions, as well as a pledge to increase police ranks by 2,000.

Villaraigosa, one of America's most high-profile Latino political leaders since taking office in 2005, could not stand for re-election after two terms at the helm of the vast West Coast metropolis.

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