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Los Angeles mayor's race pared down to City Hall veterans

There will be a runoff in May for a pair of long-time Democratic operatives to determine the next mayor of Los Angeles.

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This combo shows a Feb. 20, 2013 file photo of Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti speaking to media in Los Angeles, left, and undated image provided by the Wendy Greuel Campaign of mayoral candidate Greuel meeting with voters.

AP

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Two City Hall veterans claimed spots Wednesday in a runoff for mayor of Los Angeles, setting up a confrontation likely to turn on personality and style since the Democratic pair share much of the same policy turf.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti topped the field in Tuesday's election, carrying 33 percent of the vote. Since no candidate cleared a majority of the vote needed to win outright, he'll face Controller Wendy Greuel in the May 21 matchup to replace exiting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She had 29 percent, accordingly to preliminary returns.

Meanwhile, in a decision that will hang heavy on the next mayor of the financially troubled city, voters knocked down a proposed increase to the city's sales tax — a half-cent boost to 9.5 percent. The measure was defeated by a double-digit margin, returns showed.

"Our work isn't over," Garcetti said in a fundraising pitch after the polls closed. "It would be easy to let up and take a break. But you deserve better from me, and Los Angeles deserves better from us. We need to keep our foot on the gas."

With all precincts reporting, along with a partial count of mail-in ballots, Garcetti and Greuel were followed by Republican Kevin James, with just over 16 percent, and Democratic Councilwoman Jan Perry, who was a fraction behind him. The fifth candidate in the field was Los Angeles County Democratic Chair Eric Bauman.

The city appears headed for another first at City Hall. Greuel would become the first woman mayor, and Garcetti could become the first Jew elected to the post (but not the first to hold it in a temporary capacity). The two candidates also have roots in the city's San Fernando Valley.

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