VAN NUYS (KNX 1070) — Republican attorney and former mayoral candidate Kevin James has decided to back Councilman Eric Garcetti’s campaign for mayor.

“I am here, standing with Eric Garcetti and I endorse Eric Garcetti in this campaign,” James said at a Van Nuys news conference this morning.

KNX 1070 reports that James’s endorsement makes him the third of Garcetti’s former rivals to back his campaign.

James finished third in the March 5 primary election, followed by Councilwoman Jan Perry and former tech executive Emanuel Pleitez, both of whom have thrown their support behind Garcetti.

The attorney said he planned on supporting Garcetti because he believed the councilman would be a more “independent” mayor than City Controller Wendy Greuel, who is heavily backed by labor unions.

James posed himself as a City Hall outsider during the primary election campaign, and accused Garcetti, Greuel and Perry of leading the city to the financial troubles it currently faces. James was the sole Republican candidate in the primary election. USC professor Dan Schnur of the USC Institute for Polictics says James’ backing will help with the Republican swing vote.

“There aren’t a lot of Republicans in Los Angeles. But in a close race between two Democrats, Republicans can potentially have an impact, particularly in the San Fernando alley, which has been a Greuel stronghold all the way through,” Schnur said. “This gives Garcetti a way to compete there.”

Greuel and Garcetti will square off in the May 21 runoff election.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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