Return of the prodigal: Antonio Villaraigosa eyes governorship

Antonio Villaraigosa wakes up each morning in his Santa Monica apartment to a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean – its seemingly endless blue waters and the dreams that have inspired men since they first set eyes on the scene. Those dreams and their inspiration have not been lost on Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who has returned to California after an imposed sabbatical in New York with plans to run for governor of the Golden State, or possibly for the newly opened U.S. Senate seat. That gubernatorial election is not until 2018, but the Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer is in 2016, and suitors are already lining up in what could become  historic campaigns. Villaraigosa wants to become the first Latino governor of California in modern history — or its first Hispanic U.S. Senator — and his return to his home state has shaken up the political landscape for obvious reasons. The Latino vote now threatens to potentially be the deciding difference in any statewide race in California. SEE ALSO: California Latinos scramble for historic Senate seat Hispanics make up the largest demographic segment of California, having surpassed whites in 2014, and Villaraigosa symbolizes the prospect of what could happen politically if over the coming three years he can galvanize the ever-growing Latino constituency. “We’re going to have to restore the luster to the California dream,” Villaraigosa told the Sacramento Bee last week while in the state capital for a panel on state politics that effectively became his homecoming. Villaraigosa, 61, stepped down as mayor of Los Angeles after two terms in 2013 and moved to New York for what he called a “timeout, a time to reflect.” The timeout could not have come at a better point in Villaraigosa’s political calender, according to a longtime adviser who now says it has given voters a chance to take stock and understand he “did an incredible job as mayor.” “Los Angeles is no better off today – and may not even be in as good of shape, fiscally, as it was when Antonio was mayor,” says the advisor and longtime Democratic Party leader. “I think people have come to understand that the recession that hit the country while he was mayor affected the nation and all its cities, and Los Angeles under Antonio probably did better than most.” To that end, Villaraigosa and his people have been quietly positioning his mayoral legacy in the best light – as the “guy who fixed Los Angeles”by bringing mass transit to L.A., by wiping out much of the crime and giving the city a real downtown.   That is the message that Villaraigosa’s advisers say he will be delivering throughout California during the coming years leading up to whichever campaign he enters, plus also taking time to mend fences, especially with the powerful public employee labor unions with whom he battled at times while mayor. Villaraigosa will be aided by the fact that he himself is a former labor organizer and still has close friendships among both union leaders and the rank and file. He may also be helped that he can run being seen by some as an outsider of California establishment politics because in 2018 he will have not held public office in five years. The other likely gubernatorial contenders currently are public officials – among them Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Secretary of State-elect Alex Padilla. Attorney General Kamala Harris has already announced she will run for the Senate seat in 2016. For Villaraigosa, the task at hand will also be capturing the spotlight as the most popular Latino leader in the state away from Padilla and Garcetti, while establishing himself as the foremost Hispanic candidate with formidable ethnic and labor backing, as well as considerable Jewish backing. SEE ALSO: California Governor Jerry Brown sworn in for a historic fourth term Whatever Villaraigosa decides, he is likely to get a boost in that role with the 2016 presidential campaign, again becoming a Latino surrogate for the party’s nominee. Villaraigosa has also intimated that he will begin setting forth a challenge to Californians to ambitiously think about restoring the state to a leadership role in all areas of life, especially public education. “We became the No. 5 economy in the world,” he says. “We became that state because we were investing in people. We were investing in an infrastructure. We had the best roads and highways, airports and ports. “We’ve got to get back to those kinds of investments.” It is the kind of quixotic message, say his longtime advisers, that has always worked successfully for Villaraigosa since his election to the legislature where he became Assembly Speaker and eventually his run for mayor. “Don’t accept the idea that public life is just about hitting singles and doubles. You can’t be afraid to swing for home runs,” says Villaraigosa. “If you want to make investments for the good of the public, you can’t let a few individuals block progress.”The post Return of the prodigal: Antonio Villaraigosa eyes governorship appeared first on Voxxi.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends the 2014 Carousel of Hope Ball presented by Mercedes-Benz at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Antonio Villaraigosa wakes up each morning in his Santa Monica apartment to a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean – its seemingly endless blue waters and the dreams that have inspired men since they first set eyes on the scene.

Those dreams and their inspiration have not been lost on Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who has returned to California after an imposed sabbatical in New York with plans to run for governor of the Golden State, or possibly for the newly opened U.S. Senate seat.

That gubernatorial election is not until 2018, but the Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer is in 2016, and suitors are already lining up in what could become  historic campaigns.

Villaraigosa wants to become the first Latino governor of California in modern history — or its first Hispanic U.S. Senator — and his return to his home state has shaken up the political landscape for obvious reasons.

The Latino vote now threatens to potentially be the deciding difference in any statewide race in California.

SEE ALSO: California Latinos scramble for historic Senate seat

Hispanics make up the largest demographic segment of California, having surpassed whites in 2014, and Villaraigosa symbolizes the prospect of what could happen politically if over the coming three years he can galvanize the ever-growing Latino constituency.

“We’re going to have to restore the luster to the California dream,” Villaraigosa told the Sacramento Bee last week while in the state capital for a panel on state politics that effectively became his homecoming.

Villaraigosa, 61, stepped down as mayor of Los Angeles after two terms in 2013 and moved to New York for what he called a “timeout, a time to reflect.”

The timeout could not have come at a better point in Villaraigosa’s political calender, according to a longtime adviser who now says it has given voters a chance to take stock and understand he “did an incredible job as mayor.”

“Los Angeles is no better off today – and may not even be in as good of shape, fiscally, as it was when Antonio was mayor,” says the advisor and longtime Democratic Party leader.

“I think people have come to understand that the recession that hit the country while he was mayor affected the nation and all its cities, and Los Angeles under Antonio probably did better than most.”

To that end, Villaraigosa and his people have been quietly positioning his mayoral legacy in the best light – as the “guy who fixed Los Angeles”by bringing mass transit to L.A., by wiping out much of the crime and giving the city a real downtown.

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That is the message that Villaraigosa’s advisers say he will be delivering throughout California during the coming years leading up to whichever campaign he enters, plus also taking time to mend fences, especially with the powerful public employee labor unions with whom he battled at times while mayor.

Villaraigosa will be aided by the fact that he himself is a former labor organizer and still has close friendships among both union leaders and the rank and file.

He may also be helped that he can run being seen by some as an outsider of California establishment politics because in 2018 he will have not held public office in five years.

The other likely gubernatorial contenders currently are public officials – among them Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Secretary of State-elect Alex Padilla. Attorney General Kamala Harris has already announced she will run for the Senate seat in 2016.

For Villaraigosa, the task at hand will also be capturing the spotlight as the most popular Latino leader in the state away from Padilla and Garcetti, while establishing himself as the foremost Hispanic candidate with formidable ethnic and labor backing, as well as considerable Jewish backing.

SEE ALSO: California Governor Jerry Brown sworn in for a historic fourth term

Whatever Villaraigosa decides, he is likely to get a boost in that role with the 2016 presidential campaign, again becoming a Latino surrogate for the party’s nominee.

Villaraigosa has also intimated that he will begin setting forth a challenge to Californians to ambitiously think about restoring the state to a leadership role in all areas of life, especially public education.

“We became the No. 5 economy in the world,” he says. “We became that state because we were investing in people. We were investing in an infrastructure. We had the best roads and highways, airports and ports.

“We’ve got to get back to those kinds of investments.”

It is the kind of quixotic message, say his longtime advisers, that has always worked successfully for Villaraigosa since his election to the legislature where he became Assembly Speaker and eventually his run for mayor.

“Don’t accept the idea that public life is just about hitting singles and doubles. You can’t be afraid to swing for home runs,” says Villaraigosa. “If you want to make investments for the good of the public, you can’t let a few individuals block progress.”

The post Return of the prodigal: Antonio Villaraigosa eyes governorship appeared first on Voxxi.