Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti defeated City Controller Wendy Greuel in a mayoral election that set spending records and saw both candidates rack up high-profile endorsements on the way to Tuesday's runoff.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Garcetti garnered 54 percent of the vote and Greuel 46 percent.
"Thank you Los Angeles--the hard work begins but I am honored to lead this city for the next four years. Let's make this a great city again," Garcetti, 42, wrote on Twitter early Wednesday.
Garcetti becomes the first Jewish candidate to be elected to the mayor's office. In 1878, Bernard Cohn was a member of the city's council when he was appointed acting mayor to fill a vacancy. He served for less than one month.
Garcetti will inherit a city still struggling to pull itself from an extended fiscal slump.
"We're going to have to give a little something to get a lot," Garcetti said Tuesday night. "Independent leadership and doing what's right for the city is what I'm going to continue to do."
The contest to succeed outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who leaves office at the end of June with high marks from his constituents, broke spending records as outside contributions topped $33 million.
"We're talking a whole lot of money and very few votes," said NBC4 political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. "It's not only the money, but how that money was used.
"It shows the increasing dominance of independent expenditure groups. Those groups can't be controlled by the candidate. Garcetti had greated control over the message. Even though he had far less in contributions from the independent groups, he came out ahead."
Greuel would have become the city's first female mayor, if elected. She called Garcetti early Wednesday to concede, The Los Angeles Times reported, citing a Greuel campaign source.
In their sprint to the finish line after two years of campaigning, both Democratic contenders with similar voting records tried to differentiate themselves from each other in down-to-the-wire pitches to undecided voters.
Greuel had racked up endorsements from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, the Daily News and high profile figures including former President Bill Clinton, Magic Johnson, and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.
"He cares deeply about Los Angeles," Greuel said of Garcetti as she addressed supporters Wednesday in Van Nuys. "He will work tirelessly and be a strong leader at a critical point in the city's history."
Garcetti had the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the L.A. Times and Newark Mayor Cory Booker in his corner. The fluent Spanish-speaker had talked during the campaign about his paternal grandparents' emigration from Mexico.
Villaraigosa issued a statement Wednesday morning on his Facebook page, thanking Greuel and congratulating Garcetti: "Eric is a true leader who I trust to guide our city into its bright future. I know I am leaving Los Angeles in good hands. I look forward to working with Eric and his team over the next month for a seamless transition so that we can keep Los Angeles moving in the right direction.
"I also want to thank Wendy Greuel for her commitment to the people of Los Angeles and admire her for being willing to put her name on the ballot."