He's an utterly ambitious career politician with the $2,000 suits, million-dollar smile and billionaire friends, but you all know him simply as Mayor V. Observers have wondered what Antonio Villaraigosa was going to do next after letting the gubernatorial race pass him by.
One pundit thinks he has the answer: Villaraigosa, writes Charles Feldman, could be aiming for Washington, D.C. " ... I believe that Villaraigosa will run for the US Senate in 2012," Feldman writes at the Huffington Post. "Already, there are some who are starting the drumbeat for this ... "
Feldman puts it this way: " ... After Villaraigosa concludes his current term as mayor of Los Angeles, he would, politically, have no where else to go, having passed on his chance to run for governor in 2010. And, I just don't see someone with Villaraigosa's energy and ego (the first abundant; the second, huge) fading into the obscurity of some private sector job."
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Did you hear that Los Angeles? There's no where to go but up. Of course, Mayor V. has had a lackluster and, some would say, disappointing tenure as City Hall's commander in chief. His promise to take over the area school district fell flat, his marriage fell apart as he dated a newscaster, and he's pretty much been hands off on the most-pressing issues of our day, including the proliferation of medical-marijuana outlets in Los Angeles.
The mayor, rather, enjoys taking the high road, appearing at announcements about federal dollars coming our way or taking a podium to proclaim that the city is the world capital of this or that (farmers markets, for example). As such, he would have likely had an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of statewide voters in the governor's race. We're not sure why he would have an easier time of it running for the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein sits like a 20-ton paperweight. Feldman seems to think he has a shot:
"It would be terribly myopic, and just plain wrong," Feldman writes, "to presume that the mayor has lost the considerable political skills that got him elected to City Hall in the first place."
On that point we might agree. Whatever failures he's had as a policy maker, Villaraigosa is always a clutch player as a political contestant. That's his true calling -- as an election warrior -- even if that doesn't do his constituents much good. One thing we've learned from covering Mayor V over the years is to never count him out.