For starters, James is the only republican running for mayor in a democratic city. He's a former federal prosecutor and the former co-chairman of AIDS Project Los Angeles.
James says all that is more than enough experience to qualify him as mayor.
"When you put the legal experience with the nonprofit experience, the private sector experience and the media experience, you have a combination, you have an equation that amounts to someone, along with my independence, that can carry out the duties of this office," he said.
It is anticipated that no candidate will have enough votes to get more than 50 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has endorsed James. James has said he hopes that endorsement will help him raise money and get into the expected runoff.
Money is lacking in Los Angeles when it comes to balancing the budget. There's another deficit that probably will force cuts. James is going to ask city employees to delay or give back promised pay raises.
"What I am asking them to do is to forgo the raises they have coming due. That's $167 million immediately," he said. "Then we have to look at other areas. We may have to roll back some of the raises that have existed, that they have had the luxury of receiving."
Like his opponents, James is committed to protecting public safety budgets such as the fire department and police. He opposes a proposed increase in the sales tax to protect city services. James thinks the city can maintain services without a tax increase, if the unions cooperate.
"If the unions go along with this we will not have any cuts in services. They can keep their jobs too, which is important. They're going to make a little less money, but we get to keep their jobs," he said.
James says he's not naïve. He knows that it's going to require a lot of negotiation with labor and management, city leaders and unions leaders sitting down at the table together.