(CNS) The two candidates vying to be L.A.'s next mayor made a big play for the city's black vote today, with Eric Garcetti receiving the endorsement of one-time mayoral candidate Jan Perry while Controller Wendy Greuel got the backing of Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Perry, one of the three black members of the 15-member City Council, endorsed Garcetti during a news conference at the 28th Street YMCA, which was founded in 1926 by members of the black community.
"I am proud to endorse Eric Garcetti for mayor," Perry said. "I spent the last two years seeing the candidates up close. It's clear that the best choice for mayor is Eric Garcetti. Eric has the independence we need to balance the budget."
Calling Perry an "independent voice" during the primary race, Garcetti highlighted projects they collaborated on as colleagues on the City Council.
"Together, we wrote the nation's largest clean water initiative and created the independent DWP ratepayer advocate, and now we are going to win this election to get our city back to work, balance our budget and expand opportunity here in South L.A. and across Los Angeles," he said.
An endorsement by Perry, who made a strong showing in South Los Angeles in the March 5 primary, has the potential to persuade her nearly 60,000 supporters to back Garcetti in the May 21 runoff against Greuel, who finished second.
Although she fell short overall in her mayoral bid, Perry bested both Garcetti and Greuel in the primary in a broad swath of precincts in South Los Angeles, an area that includes many black and Latino communities.
In the past two weeks, Garcetti, who has set up a campaign office in South Los Angeles to court voters there, picked up the endorsements of the Los Angeles African American Women Political Action Committee and the New Frontier Democratic Club, a predominantly women's group with a long history in the black community.
Perry's endorsement is the second for Garcetti from a former opponent. Emanuel Pleitez, who came in fifth in the primary, announced his backing for Garcetti earlier this month.
Third-place finisher Kevin James, who snagged more than 60,000 votes, mostly in the San Fernando Valley, met with Garcetti and Greuel two weeks ago but said he
Greuel won an endorsement today from Johnson, a basketball-legend-turned- entrepreneur and major figure in the city's black community.
"Wendy is a tough and experienced leader," Johnson said. "And she's got the public and private sector background to level with business owners and about how to make L.A. a great place to open and expand a business."
Greuel was accompanied by County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of the Southland's most prominent black politicians -- who has already endorsed Greuel -- as well as LA Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell.
"I've also felt a strong connection to the South Los Angeles community for decades, starting when I had the privilege to serve in the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley," Greuel said. "Today, it's a sincere honor to have the support of Magic Johnson, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the many other leaders from across the African-American community in this race to be mayor."
Greuel earlier this week also won the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton, known as a well-liked politician in the black community.