Outspoken Los Angeles conservative radio host Kevin James’ brash, media-savvy campaign for the city’s mayoralty is picking up steam as the race gains national attention, raising the hopes of his young volunteers and gaining the admiration of the “torch-and-pitchfork voters” that James calls his base.
The mayoral race, which is officially nonpartisan, pits James against three entrenched Democratic politicians: city council president Eric Garcetti, city council member Jan Perry and city controller Wendy Gruel. The primary will be held Tuesday, but if none of the candidates gains a majority of the vote – which is expected – the run-off election will be held May 21.
An openly gay and locally famous late-night talk radio host for nearly a decade until 2011, James has positioned himself as both the outsider in the race and also the voice of the city’s private sector, criticizing the unions and taking some pointed jabs at the Democratic establishment currently running City Hall.
“I would spend more time in Los Angeles than Villaraigosa, certainly,” James told The Daily Caller with a laugh, referring to Los Angeles’ current mayor.
Though his themes of “giving the private sector a voice at City Hall” and conducting “arm’s-length negotiations with city-employee unions” has growing support in a city in danger of bankruptcy, James has so far had to employ unconventional tactics in getting his message out.
James scored a headline-grabbing, if somewhat bizarre, hit this week with a new Internet ad depicting opponents Garcetti and Gruel, portrayed by actors, driving to an open field in the middle of the night and burying “bodies” representing city projects like the parking revenue fund and the sidewalk repair fund, which the ad claims were killed in favor of pay raises and redecorated city offices.
“They’ve been doing the dirty work in city hall for 22 years,” intones a deep-throated narrator in the ad, as “Garcetti” and “Gruel” drive the city’s streets searching for their body-dumping site. “Corruption is the way of life in city hall. Most of their work has been done outside of the public eye. Behind closed doors.”
Garcetti quickly laughed off the ad, joking, “I told Kevin: ‘We’re going to bury you. We’re going to bury the competition.’” Gruel’s campaign similarly joked, “”If the Kevin James campaign falls in a forest can anyone hear it?”
But James is convinced that he’s going to have the last laugh – and that alternative media is going to help him get it. While Gruel counts support in the Valley, which is where insiders predict most of the vote to be concentrated, and Garcetti is a major political and cocktail-party figure in Hollywood, James’ base is a citywide coalition bound together only by shared sentiment – and by radio.