LA Mayoral Preview: Kevin James
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — These days mayoral candidate Kevin James is talking and thinking politics even at a local park.
When James has got to get away, he comes to Runyon Canyon to clear his head.
“For me, it’s just a complete escape and you forget you’re in the city. If you stand here where we are right now, you don’t really hear anything. Later in the afternoon you hear the birds,” James says. “What you don’t hear is the freeway. You don’t hear the horns.”
As an “outsider” in the 2013 LA mayoral race, James has a lot on his mind, in the closing days of the campaign. A new face on the mayoral circuit, James is positioning himself the guy who will shake up City Hall.
James graduated from the University of Oklahoma and University of Houston Law School before spending three years as an assistant U.S. attorney and 20 years as a private entertainment lawyer. More recently, he worked as a political radio talk show host in LA, where he developed a conservative following.
“They know me, many of them, through my years broadcasting in Los Angeles, calling out corruption,” James said.
But the LA Times reports mayoral candidate James has considerably toned down populist radio talk host James, who appealed to a Tea Party audience and attacked and ridiculed President Obama.
“I don’t think I’m at all too conservative for Los Angeles. I think I’m right in line with what LA needs today,” James said.
James is emphasizing issues like budget constraint and pension reform, declaring the alternative is bankruptcy. As for how he get things done with a Democratic city council, James says if the council blocks his reforms, he’ll go right to the voters.
“If I’m unable to get cooperation on key issues like pension reform or making the city a business-friendly city, again through my business improvement package, then I will go around them,” James said. “I will put it on the ballot as “mayor.
James’s highest profile political supporter is former mayor Dick Riordan, who tried but failed to put pension reform on the ballot for the voters to decide.
In a non-partisan election, James doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a Republican — an openly gay Republican.
“I get asked often, mostly by young gay people, ‘hey Kevin, how can you justify being gay and Republican,’” James said. “Well then I just ask the question, ‘then isn’t that where my work should be?’ That’s where the harder work is, and that’s where it’s needed for my community.”
It appears James is trying to put together the same kind of coalition that elected another Republican novice to the mayor’s office — Dick Riordan. But Riordan has been out of city hall for more than a decade and the demographic changes in the city since then don’t work in James’ favor.