By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Updated: 01/03/2010 06:23:04 PM PST

As Californians brace for this year’s gubernatorial election, two local law enforcement unions have joined forces to play a larger role in the campaign.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs have buried past differences and combined to create the California Law and Order Independent Expenditure Committee.

The new group’s top priority will be the governor’s race, but leaders also plan to get involved in electing the attorney general and other key officials.

Don Novey, the political consultant for the PPL, said organizers expect to raise significant amounts of money and play a major role in the election.

“It was funny that these two groups never got together, but they have been at odds since 1923, and no one can really remember why,” Novey said. “I told them it was like Jack Webb looking in the mirror and they ought to get along.”

Many of the disagreements centered on competitiveness over which was the most effective law enforcement agency in the region. In fact, the two unions have used each other in their bargaining with the city or county to boost the pay of their members.

Officials with ALADS said they consider the new political committee a test run to see if union leaders can agree on common candidates and strategy.

In the past, the Protective League has generally confined itself to city elections and ALADS to county elections. It is uncertain if they will cross over to work together in future campaigns or if old rifts will surface.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is accelerating the budget process and is talking about putting the city on a three-year budget cycle as a way to balance the costs and demands for municipal services.

His office is conducting another survey of budget priorities – available from the mayor’s Web site at www.lacity.org. However, he has already said that public safety is first priority, followed by ways the city can become more efficient.

The survey also is a way for the Mayor’s Office to lay out “the difficult financial decisions the city is facing,” Villaraigosa said.

The survey poses a list of potential cuts to city agencies, from police and fire to support departments such as General Services. It provides a running tab of how each decision would affect the budget as well as how other respondents have voted.

The mayor is expected to provide details of some of his proposals in the middle of this month.

We’ll soon begin hearing announcements from folks who plan to run for state office in the June 8 primary election.

For Democrats, most of the attention is focused on Attorney General Jerry Brown and his expected run for governor. However, he’s been in no rush to make it official, and is the only major Democratic candidate for the office with Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropping out this past year.

The formal filing period opens on Feb. 15 and closes on March 12.

Late last week, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley – looking over a field of candidates who have yet to grab the public’s attention – announced he is considering running for attorney general.

The only announced Republican is state Sen. Tom Harman of Costa Mesa. There are a number of Democrats seeking the nomination, led by former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

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