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Poll: With Newsom out, should Villaraigosa jump into the governor's race?

NewsomLet the speculation over recently reelected L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's gubernatorial ambitions resume, beginning with this blogpost. He already said he wasn't interested in the job (at least this time around), but that was before San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the race today, leaving former governor and California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown as the last man standing in the Democratic Party field. Villaraigosa has a few natural advantages; namely, he would be the only nonwhite candidate and the only hopeful from Southern California in the field (Republicans Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell are all from the Silicon Valley, and Brown emerged from political exile as mayor of Oakland before becoming attorney general).

Back before Villaraigosa announced his non-candidacy in June, former state Sen. Tom Hayden predicted in a Times Blowback piece that Villaraigosa would run but that his chances in a two-man race against Brown weren't good:

There is a path to victory in the Democratic primary for Villaraigosa if he runs against three white male candidates: former Gov. Jerry Brown, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. Villaraigosa will be able to claim the Latino vote -- roughly 28% of primary voters -- thus needing only an additional 12% to reach the 40% probably needed to succeed in a divided field. In a two-way race against Brown, on the other hand, Brown wins. ...

Some say he first should do the job he was elected to do. They don't understand his DNA or that of most power politicians. Villaraigosa is not a policy wonk; instead, he looks for good ideas that he can market as sound bites, such as "greening L.A." or "subway to the sea." Like any Machiavellian, his mission is to expand power for himself and for the forces he has chosen to represent -- Latinos and labor foremost -- while also cultivating an image as pro-growth, pro-business and pro-police. He still needs to win a greater base among environmentalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but the demographics of California politics are trending his way.

Hayden was responding to a Feb. 27 Op-Ed article in The Times by Marc Cooper, who made the case against a run by the mayor:

The mayor's first term was a mixed bag, even if you put aside his personal contretemps. He's laid some groundwork for an eventual crosstown rail system, but it's still a long way from certain it will be built. He's worked effectively with LAPD Chief Bill Bratton to modernize and expand the force, but there are still plenty of crime problems, including gang warfare, that need attention. He flubbed a bid to take over the city's public schools, but then gave his blessing to a successful behind-the-scenes move to oust the lackluster David Brewer as superintendent. And he has done some work, though not all he promised, to improve the handful of schools he now controls. ...

Holding the title of governor of the Golden State obviously confers more personal prestige than reigning as Chief Angeleno. The former is about personal glory and tussling for four years with a brain-dead Legislature. The second is about saving America's second-biggest city and, in doing so, not exactly failing to rack up a nice little bundle of political glory points.

What do you think? With Newsom out, should Mayor Villaraigosa take a shot at becoming Gov. Villaraigosa? Take our unscientific poll, leave a comment or do both.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on Oct.11. Credit: David Cannon / Getty Images.


Comments () | Archives (19)

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I'd like to see him run just to watch Jerry Brown humiliate the slimy little creep.

Mitchell Young

the only nonwhite candidate and the only hopeful from Southern California in the field

Hmmm, weren't all those young, white Obama enthusiasts chanting "race doesn't matter" about a year ago? Apparently they were wrong, it does to the LAT ed board, and perhaps to voters. Nice to see such refreshing honesty.

Bob in Santa Monica

I think most Californians are sick to death of Jerry Brown, and reasonable question how burned out he really is. Villaraigosa is young, smart, energetic and charming, and has the potential to lead. Brown, sadly, increases the likelihood the dems will stay home, and that we'll end up with another arrogant, ignorant Republican hobbyist for Governor.

Antonio should run, Jerry should yield to the better candidate, and give Villaraigosa the chance to become for California what Obama is for America: a move into the future.


When Jerry Brown began his first term as Oakland mayor in 1999, Oakland had its lowest crime rate in several years. When Jerry Brown second term as mayor came to an end in 2006, it had its worst crime rate since the early 90s. This isn't hyperbole; look it up. Under Jerry Brown, OPD was involved in a number of scandals, police shootings, etc. Jerry Brown appointed the worse lame duck Chief of Police in 2005, who eventually preemptively resigned over City Council displeasure with his lack of performance. A number of other Brown appointees were involved in political scandal (google Deborah Edgerly). Brown failed to bring any meaningful retail and economic development to Oakland during the nation’s recent economic boom. His only real accomplishments were enabling more housing development in downtown (much like what has happened in most cities in recent years) and opening OSA and a high school police academy.

I absolutely cannot understand why he is ahead in the polls. People - especially in southern California - must not be familiar with what has been going on in Oakland this decade. I guess people are remembering the "Moonbeam" Brown, but he is not the same man.

Antonio is not perfect but he is ten times better than Brown, and certainly better than any of the leading Republican candidates. Villaraigosa should definitely run.

El Patron

Tony Villar:
Smart...well...not really.

From Wikipedia: After UCLA, Villaraigosa attended the People's College of Law (PCL), an unaccredited law school in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa failed the California Bar Exam FOUR times and is not licensed to practice law.

Grant it, he has street smarts and charisma, but that is only good for getting into office. One needs some real smarts to make good policy decisions.

I for one do not believe he would make a good governor.


You should have posted another choice: "Villaraigosa is nothing more than a suit, a hairdo, and a bunch of white teeth. He'd do nothing to set California on the right path." I would've chosen that option. I'll take Brown. He's old enough to not be running for the next office and to maybe try to do the hard things that need to be done as governor: Scrap Prop 13; stop locking up non-violent offenders; make the rich pay their fair share; and rethink school funding.


Who is Meg White??? Do you mean Meg Whitman? Honestly, is there a copy editor in the house?


Brown has already said in a speech at UCI that he does not plan to take on Prop. 13. Villar should not run because Brown is going to win hands down.


Villaragosa??? Haven't you seen the dispair that the City of Los Angeles has been in? All this clown is interested in is chasing TV reporter's skirts. Our state in desparate need of a real leader that all people can believe in. Not just one segment of our population. Don't elect another one of these guys in the name of La Raza. Save our state, please!!!

Richard Deight

What Mayor Villaraigosa fails to grasp is that, after years of profligate spending, the city of Los Angeles is bankrupt.

Villaraigosa’s symbolic pay cuts and work furloughs make good press, but miss the point and are a drop in the bucket.

Over the years, the city has become a top-heavy pyramid. Almost everyone is managing someone. The fat cats at the top, meanwhile, are basically highly paid clerks who do little if any actual work. Are they really worth the big salaries?

We watch in disbelief as scarce tax dollars are squandered on a veritable cornucopia of perks, pork-barrel projects, appeasing special-interests, and government waste in general.

For practical purposes, the public has no say over much of what passes for government spending.

Where is the benefit to the public from various and sundry departments, do-nothing boards, panels, and commissions, and layer upon layer of management? A private firm would go broke in two weeks if it were run like the city.

Henry Ford once said, "History is bunk." Blindly following precedent, Villaragosa leads Los Angeles much as the mast on the prow of a ship leads the ship.

Apparently neither he nor the residents of Los Angeles have learned anything from history, specifically that a bloated government, and spending like there is no tomorrow, is inherently unsustainable.

That kind of thinking at the state level is why the state, too, is broke.


Villar has accomplished nothing as mayor and would do nothing to turn CA around if made governor. His interests seem to be pursuing TV anchor ladies and getting his mug on TV. And yes Oakland has deteriorated under the "leadership" of Brown. Yearly trips to Oakland for football games have been increasingly "sketchy" to the point that I don't go anymore.


You might as well grant another term to Arnold.

So on the democrat side, you have Jerry Brown, and on the GOP side, Meg Whitman.

What's the matter with the two parties? You can't nominate someone worth voting for? The state was so sick of one governor that they recalled him.

A Brown supporter

Jerry Brown - Yale Law School Graduate, 1964. After law school, Brown worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court of California Justice Mathew Tobriner, and studied in Mexico and Latin America. n the late 1960s, he entered politics by organizing migrant workers and anti-Vietnam War groups. In 1970, Brown was elected California Secretary of State. Brown used the position, which was historically limited in power, to bring lawsuits against corporations such as Standard Oil of California, International Telephone and Telegraph, Gulf Oil, and Mobil for violation of campaign-finance laws and argued in person before the California Supreme Court. Brown also played an important role in the drafting and passage of the California Fair Political Practices Act. As Governor created the California Office of Appropriate Technology. A founding member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, chairman of the California State Water Board in 1976. Repealed the "depletion allowance", a tax break for the state's oil industry. Brown appointed the first black (Wiley Manuel), female (Rose Bird), and Latino (Cruz Reynoso) judges to the California Supreme Court. Revitalized Oakland during his Mayoralship.
Brown does more before breakfast every day than Antonio has done in his entire life!


Tony Villar could do California a favor by taking a very long walk on a rather short pier/


Why didn't the LA Times offer the choice of "No, he would not be good for California"? What is your agenda? Do you think we are that stupid?


Just one thing - we have to stop electing movie stars to public office.




Brown is the worse thing that could happen to California if he is the only candidate I would vote republican just to keep him out of our government. Mr feel good doesn't have what it takes to move California forward. He is in this to be a BIG man who really is a very small minded person JMO


WHY would anyone suggest CA Lt. Gov. JOHN GARAMENDI running for CA Governor, when (a) CA Atty. Gen. Jerry Brow has a 7 to 1 fund-raising advantage over the SF Mayor; and (b) "THIS JUST IN!" -JOHN GARAMENDI WON the "open congressional seat for the CA 10th U.S. Cong. Dist. during the recent November 3 election?



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