LOS ANGELES, Calif. — City Councilman Eric Garcetti emerged victorious today in the race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles, ending a nearly two-year campaign that saw record-breaking spending and was punctuated by a spate of attack ads in the waning weeks of the race.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Garcetti had 54 percent of the vote, compared to 46 percent for City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Greuel called Garcetti around 2 a.m. to concede the race, but was expected to deliver formal concession remarks in Van Nuys later this morning.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa this morning congratulated the man who will succeed him.

“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,” he said in a statement, calling Garcetti “my friend.”

Late Tuesday night, while votes were still being tallied, Garcetti delivered what was clearly a victory speech, although he never used the word “victory.”

“Well, the results aren’t all in, but this is shaping up to be a great night,” Garcetti told supporters at the Hollywood Palladium. “So let me start by saying thank you. Thank you to the thousands of you who volunteered for this campaign and thank you to the voters of L.A. who tonight voted for strong independent leadership to lead this city forward.

“All of you out there watching on TV and up here have made this night possible,” he said. “We faced some powerful forces in this race. We didn’t have the most money … but we had something more important. We had a people-powered campaign and we had a commitment with that people power to let the voters of Los Angeles choose the next mayor, not any power brokers.”

Garcetti also had kind words for his opponent.

“I want to thank Wendy Greuel for her dedication to public service,” Garcetti said. “Wendy and I both love Los Angeles, and she has given her professional life to making this city a better place. And I know she will continue on that mission.”

Speaking to supporters late Tuesday at her election-night party at the Los Angeles Exchange nightclub, Greuel held out hope that the election results would turn in her favor. She took a narrow lead when the vote-by-mail tally was released, but Garcetti quickly overtook her and continued pulling away as the
night wore on.

“I stand before you hopeful, excited and proud of the campaign that we waged together,” she said.

She even invoked the memory of her first run for City Council, when the vote tally dragged on for days before she prevailed by about 200 votes.

“No one said it was going to be easy or quick, but when you’re playing the championship of L.A. politics, sometimes the game goes into overtime,” Greuel said.

In the end, however, she was unable to keep up with Garcetti, who will take office July 1.

“What he did for the Hollywood area, he is going to do for the city,” Vietnam veteran and Garcetti supporter Tony Zapata said at the Hollywood Palladium. “He brought jobs, cleaned up the neighborhood. He’s a leader.”

Voter turnout in Tuesday’s runoff was about 19.2 percent, according to unofficial city clerk figures, despite a multitude of debates and public appearances by the candidates and a record amount of money — more than $30 million — spent on mailers and television, radio and other ads.

Garcetti, 42, flaunted his record on economic development, including his continuation of revitalization efforts in the Hollywood area and a $500 million W Hotel project he brokered.

The 51-year-old Greuel, meanwhile, frequently boasted of her experience in both the public and private sphere, having spent five years as an executive at film company DreamWorks and the last four years as controller, digging up what she says was $160 million in “waste, fraud and abuse” in the city.

Both candidates said they would maintain Villaraigosa’s goal of keeping the number of police officers in the city at 10,000.

Garcetti came out against a plan to expand the north runway at the Los Angeles International Airport and said he would not support the two-skyscraper Millennium project in Hollywood, which he calls “out of scale” with the rest of the neighborhood.

As mayor, Garcetti will face ballooning pension costs and a looming battle between city leaders and employee groups over proposed labor concessions included in Villaraigosa’s final budget.

Garcetti won key endorsements from former mayoral candidates Councilwoman Jan Perry and radio host Kevin James, translating into votes in South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Greuel secured backing from powerful groups such as the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents 600,000 union workers, some of whom have campaigned on her behalf. The controller also garnered high-profile endorsements from former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., former Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan.

After downplaying the historical potential of her candidacy during the primary election, Greuel later embraced the possibility of becoming Los Angeles’ first female mayor — highlighting it as she accepted the endorsement of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice women candidates.

Two weeks before the election, Greuel injected $100,000 of her own money into her campaign coffers after funding for television advertising dried up.

Soon after, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police officers’ union, stepped in to put in another $1.4 million into a pro-Greuel independent expenditure committee.

While Greuel has leaned heavily on financial support from labor groups, prompting opponents to question her ability to stand up to city employees during labor negotiations — particularly Department of Water and Power workers — she has retained the backing of major business groups, including the Los
Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, typically critical of city employee union contracts.