The Big JostleWhatever its other effects, a Riordan gubernatorial bid would have created some weird vibes at City Hall. No L.A. mayor's ever made it to the statehouse, but it's not the first time for those mayoral-succession vibes.
For Los Angeles city government does have a vice mayor of sorts, who'd move into the Mayor's Office, albeit only for a few months, if the sitting mayor had to relocate to Sacramento. That vice mayor is the City Council president. And this is not the first time the succession sweepstakes shook City Hall.
The early and mid-1980s saw a preposterous council-chamber border war for that half-symbolic post of council president. First, Joel Wachs snuck the position out from under John Ferraro, then Pat Russell took it from Wachs until Ruth Galanter won Russell's council seat. Whereupon the presidency reverted to Ferraro, who has held it ever since.
This presidential competition was the result of then-Mayor Tom Bradley's runs for governor in 1982 and 1986. Had he won, the City Council president would have replaced him as mayor until after the following year's city elections. The thinking at that time held that the November-to-April incumbent would be the odds-on winner in any mayor's race.
Now, 12 years after Bradley lost his last chance to be governor, the same mayor's-race mania touched City Hall again last week. If Riordan had become governor, the mayor's race would have been moved up from 2001 to spring of next year.
Not that anyone is going to sneak the president's chair out from under Big John Ferraro this time: If Riordan had won, Ferraro, who's shown no interest in being mayor since Bradley defeated his 1985 challenge, would have finally held that job, though only for four months. Meanwhile, the wannabe mayoral candidates on and off the council, who'd assumed they'd had until the Year of the Monolith to prepare their mayoral offensives, would quickly have had to raise enough money to be out there campaigning hard by this time next year.