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The Gender of Wendy

MAILANDER MUSINGS - There has been no mistaking the strategy of City Controller Wendy Greuel as she makes her bid to become Mayor of the City of Los Angeles: she wants to be on television and she wants you to know that she's a woman.
From her ongoing symposia of women's dialogs (with not just any women, but smart women!) [link] to her woman-saturated, if occasionally title-overstated, donors (for instance Shelley Freeman, a former LA-based HNW officer now heading up some bank operations in Florida, is listed as "CEO Wells Fargo" on Greuel's donor list), [link] Greuel plays gender--and especially high achievement in gender--as a key selling point of her candidacy.

This kind of posturing will fetch a few you-go-girl plaudits in the blogosphere and maybe a reporting round or two of top donor status. But does it gain the candidate any particular traction in the race?

Whether it does or not, it all must be very amusing to Councilwoman Jan Perry, the City's lone woman in the (LA City Council chambers) horseshoe, and also candidate for Mayor. Of all the identity politics boxes Jan Perry gets to tick (African American, Jewish among them), woman is one that she doesn't play up very much.

Perry of course has raised nearly as much as Greuel … not by playing up gender but by being a Councilwoman in a district in which developers have a heavy hand.

For a certain coterie of political consultants, nothing matters in a citywide race unless it happens on television. Does the Controller of the City of Los Angeles need to call in the satellite trucks every time she issues a report on a City agency?

Probably not, but it follows the present Mayoral team's own strategy. And beyond the teevee spots, Wendy Greuel has also been advised to position herself as the woman in the race--a risky strategy that cuts two ways, as Hillary Clinton discovered.

(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He blogs at where this column first appeared.)

Tags: Wendy Greuel, Jan Perry, Shelley Freeman, Wells Fargo, City Council, African American, Jewish, gender card

Vol 9 Issue 63
Pub: Aug 9, 2011