Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gestures during an interview Monday, June 22, 2009, at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Villaraigosa announced his decision Monday not to run for governor of California in 2010, because he wants to finish his job as mayor
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced on national television today that he would not be running for California governor in 2010 after flirting with a bid for higher office for months.
â€œI canâ€™t leave this city in the middle of a crisis,” Villaraigosa said. Noting that Los Angeles is grappling with a $530-million deficit, a 12.5% unemployment rate and more than 20,000 people who have lost their homes over the last two years, the mayor said: â€œI feel compelled to complete what I started out to do.â€
Elected to a second, four-year term in March, the mayor broke the news to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” saying he wanted to devote his full attention to Los Angeles.
The former state assembly speaker said he had been making up his mind â€œfor a long timeâ€ and that the state’s challenges had made the decision an “agonizingâ€ one. Villaraigosa called the situation in Sacramento â€œan abomination,â€ but hinted at the political risks of announcing a statewide run so soon after being reelected to a second term. â€œI was elected mayor and reelected by the people of this city.Theyâ€™ve given me the honor for a second term, and I feel compelled to complete the promise that I made to them. Iâ€™m going to dream, and I want the people to dream with me,â€ he said.
Villaraigosaâ€™s decision adds a dash of clarity to the race for the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination which, at the moment, appears will be between state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Brown has yet to say if he will run, while Newsom already has announced his candidacy.
In a personal note, Villaraigosa said the demands of the campaign trail would have kept him apart from his 16-year-old daughter, whom he called the â€œapple of my eye.â€ â€œSheâ€™s got two more years of high school and then sheâ€™s gone, and I donâ€™t want to be campaigning for a year, and then leading the state in Sacramento and my little precious is, you know, finishing up her high school education.â€
Pundits will say Mayor Tony pulled out because of his self-inflicted summer of love affair with Mirthala Salinas or even his latest fling with television news anchor Lu Parker but it is really the candidacy of Jerry Brown that gives him pause.
Mayor Tony will now simply wait until after Brown loses to Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner and then run for Governor at a later time or for Dianne Feinstein’s United States Senate seat when she retires.
But, Villaraigosa will be judged on his second term as Mayor of Los Angeles and he had better do a better job.