Two grab early lead for LA mayor

LOS ANGELES – Two favorites in the contest to replace outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seized an early edge Tuesday, after a low-profile campaign in which no issue or candidate electrified voters.

A tally of 111,000 mail-in ballots released by the city clerk showed Democrats Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel opening ground over other rivals, each with about 31 percent of the vote.

Returns from polling places had yet to be posted.

Turnout was light. Campaign strategists predicted that when Election Day voters are added, no more than a quarter of the city’s 1.8 million voters will have cast ballots.

The five leading candidates in the nonpartisan contest made last-minute appeals during stops around the city, while unionized workers and other campaign volunteers tried to get voters to shake off indifference and go to the polls.

“I need you to vote, and then go encourage your friends and family to vote, too,” Greuel, the city controller, told supporters in an email. She hopes to become the city’s first woman mayor.

The likely outcome in the heavily Democratic city could send Garcetti, 42, a city councilman, and Greuel, 51, to a May 21 runoff, since it’s unlikely any candidate will clear the majority needed to win outright Tuesday.

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