To Run or Not to Run? That’s the question Calbuzz.com Editors Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine ask today with commentaries by political consultant Richie Ross and me. They offer this context for the debate on whether Mayor Villaraigosa will run for governor in 2010:
At the start of 2009, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looked like a
surefire, top-rank contender to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Apparently poised for easy re-election, he exuded confidence, even
brashness, standing atop a strong base of labor and Latinos on which to
build a statewide campaign.
Since then, however, the mayor has
suffered a series of political setbacks, beginning with his
underwhelming 55 percent re-election on March 3 against a weak field,
and his city has become mired in the same kind of fiscal mess
afflicting California government at every level.
backdrop, the calendar presents him with a tactical handicap in the
Democratic race; he won’t be sworn in for his second term until July,
effectively stalling his candidacy, while Attorney General Jerry Brown
(not formally a candidate) and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (a
declared candidate) have both been politically active for months.
now, Newsom has a clear field in sniping at the front-runner Brown,
styling himself as the Obama-like tribune of new politics against the
old school Brown, the front-runner for the nomination. If Villaraigosa
gets in, the shape of the race instantly changes, as he and Newsom will
elbow and crowd each other as they try to position themselves as the
chief challenger to the attorney general.
At this point,
Villaraigosa himself is the only one who knows if that will happen or
not. The indications we have say that he has genuinely not yet made
that decision. As a practical matter, it’s not a choice that will wait
much longer; lacking independent wealth, the L.A. mayor has to go out
and grub for contributions like almost every candidate in California,
and he’s already months behind in the money primary.