We all know the answer to that question: Because he’s the only one in L.A.’s political culture with any credibility left.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has lost the confidence of the people across the city. A cloud hangs over City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. His anointed successor Jack Weiss couldn’t even win re-election in his own Fifth District and there’s no other City Council member who has established an image of integrity and competence that could sway any voters.
That leaves only Bratton and, of course, City Controller Laura Chick. But her aggressive critiques of City Hall’s endless string of failed policies have made her a persona non grata among the ruling elite. Besides, she’s too smart to support higher taxes — especially such regressive taxes that rob the working poor and middle class — for programs that are at best vague and at worst ill-conceived.
The public’s mistrust and disgust with City Hall — except for Bratton and the lame-duck controller — will become more important after Tuesday’s general election and the focus shifts to the March 3 city primary election.
This is the final week for candidates to file for the primary. And the entry of DWP board president Nick Patsaouras into the controller’s race against Wendy Greuel, and the challenges of Carmen Trutanich and Michael Amerian in the city attorney race, have sparked hopes that the public will have real debates on important issues and real choices.
The big question that remains is whether developer Rick Caruso will find the courage and commitment to challenge the mayor.
Caruso has told everyone who’s asked that his hesitation is based on his concern that running for mayor and the demands of the job might negatively impact his pre-teen children.
That, of course, is a legitimate concern but it must be weighed against his public duty since he knows full well that L.A. is at a tipping point where the greed of special interests and the slavishness of the politicians to those interests have pushed the city to the point of no return.
Villaraigosa has lived in fear of a Caruso challenge for months and successfully chased away other well-funded candidates by raising nearly $2.5 million — much if not most of it from out-of-town interests.
Caruso is the one candidate who can’t be intimidated by the mayor’s ability to raise money from special interests since he is a billionaire who can write a check for $10 million or more to mount a serious challenge.
With competitive races for the three citywide offices, an open seat in CD5 and the possibility that serious challengers to council incumbents might file candidate papers this week, there is the real possibility that voters might actually get the kind of public conversation about the state of the city and its future that is so desperately needed.
Run, Rick, Run — the city needs you now. And if not now, when — after it’s too late?