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Will Mayor Be Emboldened To Dive Into Gov's Race?

A Los Angeles Times/USC poll over the weekend stated that California Democrats are not happy with having only one major gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Brown, who has not even officially announced his intent to run in 2010. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's withdrawal from the race last month made the Attorney General the last Dem standing.

About 65 percent of Democrats who plan to vote in the primary wish they had "additional choices" for governor. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had been widely believed to be aiming for the job before announcing in June that he would stay at City Hall.

That was the day a Los Angeles Times poll of city voters found more white Democrats (47 percent) disapproved of his job performance than approved (44 percent). But the data also showed that Villaraigosa would beat Brown 38 percent to 31 percent among local Dems in a primary race that included Newsom (who got 13 percent of the respondents' support). What's more, local Latino Democrats backed Mayor V at a rate of 72 percent.

It's a point that wasn't lost on the Times, which wondered aloud in an opinion post last week if the mayor would be inspired enough by Newsom's withdrawal to get back into the mix. The paper noted that Latinos account for 28 percent of primary voters -- a nice head start if Villaraigosa could get it. The weekend poll's indication that voters want more choices could add to the jackpot for him.

But the mayor has also had a lackluster record at home, flubbing a promised takeover of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which operates many campuses outside the city, and being part of an affair that seems to have led to a marital break-up. He would have to overcome a reputation as a slick politician who is more interested in his own ascension than the well-being of his constituents. And he would have to overcome a Jerry Brown who has twice before served as governor and who, at this point, seems to be a shoo-in as the blue-party nominee with 44 percent approval among Democratic voters.