Los Angeles Democrats hold candidates accountable in first debate

Los Angeles Democrats hold candidates accountable in first debate

L.A. mayoral, California House races soak up money and attention

LOS ANGELES — The California Democratic Party held its first of four debates in the last week, holding the candidates of all the big-spending Democrats to account in a debate that drew thousands of people in a Los Angeles auditorium.

At the first debate, held at the L.A. Convention Center on Friday, former state Sen. Abel Maldonado, a former lieutenant governor in California, and state Treasurer Billiddlesburger, a San Diego businessman, faced off in the race for Los Angeles mayor.

Maldonado, the former county supervisor of Ventura County and author of the California Fair Pay Act, claimed that his opponent, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was paid over $300,000 in campaign contributions last year to win re-election. The mayor’s campaign said Maldonado’s claims were “untrue.” Villaraigosa had earlier accused Maldonado, who was the Republican nominee in 2002, of “vote buying” and accused Maldonado of “stealing his ideas through a deceptive campaign.”

Maldonado also attacked Villaraigosa over his ties to the entertainment industry, saying he had “bought support, influence and a good friend” for himself.

The two men were sharply at odds in other areas, with Maldonado telling the crowd, “I won’t tolerate illegal contributions or vote buying.” Villaraigosa, who has been endorsed by President Bush, called Maldonado a “money machine” and said that he would work to clean up the city.

The two men also sparred over the economy, with Villaraigosa questioning the mayor’s commitment to a strong economy.

The other candidates at the debate were former Los Angeles Times editorial writer Howard Witt and City Councilman Eric Garcetti, a former city attorney who became an activist and politician.

Villaraigosa, who served as San Diego mayor from 1993-97 and as a county supervisor from 1986-90,

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