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L.A. mayor's race digs deep for dirt

Forget the “sequester.” There’s a campaign going on involving accusations of corruption, bankruptcy, race and President Obama, gender politics, grave-digging, and even drilling for oil in Beverly Hills.

The election is Tuesday, and it’s to run the second-largest city in America.

This is Los Angeles, where scandal and celebrity sometimes go hand-in-hand with governance. So it should be no surprise that the candidates are hitting each other by digging deep for dirt.

Current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s term-limited. Villaraigosa has had tremendous highs and lows in his two terms. He served as the 2012 chairman of the Democratic National Convention, and a key spokesman as part of President Barack Obama’s outreach to Hispanics. But Villaraigosa has also gone through a divorce while mayor following his affair with a TV reporter. Just in December, actor Charlie Sheen, who went through his own high-profile collapse, tweeted out a picture with his arm around the mayor, saying he’s a guy who really “knows how to party!”

Villaraigosa’s exit has set off a race featuring a bundle of candidates, who have aimed the daggers at each other.

California has a so-called jungle primary. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, then the top two finishers - regardless of party - advance to a one-on-one runoff May 21.

A recent USC/L.A. Times poll showed Democratic City Councilman Eric Garcetti as the narrow front runner with 27%, just ahead of another Democrat, City Controller Wendy Greuel, who pulled in 25%.

Coming in third in the poll was conservative talk-show host Kevin James with 17%. James is hoping to vault into one of the top-two spots with the help of an attention-grabbing ad, blasting Garcetti and Greuel as corrupt government insiders.

The flashy ad uses actors, depicting Garcetti and Greuel digging a grave and dumping a body in the ground. It’s a play off of Greuel using the all-too-common budget metaphor of knowing where the bodies are buried.

When talking to black voters in particular, the candidates are all trying to show who is most like Obama.

Hoping to also crack the top two is another councilwoman, Jan Perry, who is African American. Perry over the weekend went to church with Rep. Maxine Waters (D), where Perry brought up Obama.

"I beseech you,” she said, per the L.A. Times, “turn out like you turned out for Obama. If you do that, you will deliver me."

Greuel and Garcetti also hit black churches and also invoked Obama. Garcetti noted he was Obama’s Southern California chairman, and Greuel said one of her offices was used by Obama’s campaign, which must be “good karma.”

Perry and Greuel, the top-two women in the race, have been involved in their own back and forth. Greuel blasted Perry for filing for personal bankruptcy in the 1990s -- something to which Perry admits, but blames on her husband’s law practice.

Greuel hit Perry with a mailer with this headline: “A History of Financial Mismanagement” and warns, “Don’t Let Her Bankrupt L.A.” Perry hit back with a letter from women supporters, who call the attack “morally reprehensible. … As a woman and mother you should know that there are certain lines you simply do not cross."

Meanwhile, Greuel is also in an imbroglio with Garcetti. She hit him for his family’s financial stake in potential oil and gas drilling in Beverly Hills.

"If you don't believe that you're ever going to drill for oil, if you don't believe it's going to make you money, then why not terminate the lease?" she said, per the L.A. Times.

Garcetti called it a “distraction” and essentially accused Greuel of being in the pocket of Big Labor.

Polls open at 10:00 am ET/7:00 am PT and close at 11:00 pm ET/8:00 pm PT.

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