Could Eric Garcetti be the next vice president of the United States of America?
To make a short blog post even shorter, the answer is no.
According to the Wall Street Journal, presumptive Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton is looking at nine semi-famous politicians to run with her as VP, including our very own mayor of Los Angeles, California.
Of course, Los Angeles is flattered to even be mentioned by the Wall Street Journal, or for that matter any East Coast newspaper, especially in an article that doesn't include the phrase “darkly dystopian.” Nonetheless, the suggestion is patently ridiculous, for any number of reasons, which I will now helpfully enumerate in a list of five:
5) He’s from California.
Fun fact: There has never been a Democratic presidential or vice presidential nominee from California. (I'm not counting Adlai Stevenson, who was born in L.A. but grew up in Illinois, where he served as governor and generally made a name for himself.)
Now, that might be a coincidence — Republicans have nominated a number of Californians, including such winners as John C. Fremont, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon (also Earl Warren and Reagan). So why do Democrats hate us so much?
For starters, they don't need us. California has voted solidly Democratic since 1988 and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future, barring the Republican Party realizing that immigrants are people, too (who sometimes vote).
It's not really clear if vice presidential nominees can ever really help a presidential campaign, but many candidates pick running mates from a swing state. That's why a lot of the other rumored VP candidates are from Ohio and Virginia. Garcetti, does, however, speak Spanish, which might be useful on the campaign trail.
4) He's not qualified.
Meaning no offense here. Hizzoner is a smart and distinguished and interesting guy — a Rhodes Scholar, a U.S. naval reservist, the author of at least two musicals — and he has more than 80,000 followers on Instagram. But his political résumé is not exactly a long read – 12 years on the City Council, three years as mayor.
Remember when people said Barack Obama was unqualified after only being a senator for three years? And that Sarah Palin was unqualified after only being a governor for two years? There's a reason that there's never been a presidential or vice presidential nominee from either (major) party whose highest elected office was mayor.
Another fun fact: In 1984, Walter Mondale met with L.A. mayor Tom Bradley to discuss the possibility of running as his vice presidential nominee. Some considered the meeting a publicity stunt. According to The New York Times:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and some Republicans have called it, in effect, a publicity ploy to capture the attention of the press and fulfill a campaign pledge to give serious consideration to members of minorities and women for the post.
In fact, Mondale did more than consider minorities and women, he nominated a woman, a two-term Congress member, Geraldine Ferraro.
3) He's not a Hillary loyalist.
Way back in the spring of 2007, then-Councilman Eric Garcetti endorsed Barack Obama for president, when most people thought Hillary was a slam dunk. He campaigned for Obama in about half a dozen states and served as a super delegate at the convention.
Even when Garcetti did endorse Clinton last year, he did it in the most awkward way possible – sending out an email announcing the endorsement, sending out another email retracting the endorsement reading, “Today’s statement on Hillary Clinton was sent in error,” then sending out a third email re-endorsing her.
Not that any of this mattered, and not that the Clinton folks hold a grudge against Garcetti. But the two politicians don't have a long history of cooperation.
2) He hasn't done anything.
Granted, he's only been in office for three years. But Garcetti's tenure hasn't exactly set the world on fire.
Garcetti campaigned on a “Back to Basics” platform, which was meant to stand in contrast to his predecessor Antonio Villaraigosa's “Hey, look at me!” approach. Back to Basics had nothing to to do with public policy and everything to do with the inner workings of government – which, hey, might be getting better? Who knows? It's not really the kind of thing that we can see.
His one big Accomplishment has been to raise the minimum wage $15 an hour, an issue that rather got away from him, as he initially only wanted $13.25.
He's certainly been a leader on expanding our nascent light rail system, but so have many people, including Villaraigosa.
On most of the leading issues of the day – homelessness, housing, infrastructure, education – Garcetti has stayed far above the fray, taking politically safe and incremental stances.
Now, that might actually be a plus for a vice president – someone safe and savvy, who doesn't commit gaffes or steal the spotlight. You know, the anti-Joe Biden. But probably not.
1) He doesn't (really) want the job.
When asked about the VP rumors on KNX radio's regular Ask the Mayor program, Garcetti said, “I’m not looking for a new job. … I have a great one right now, and that’s being mayor of the city.”
Now, that's no Sherman pledge (“If nominated, I will not run”). In classic Garcetti fashion, there's a lot of wiggle room. That said, it's not an enthusiastic “anything to help my party and Hillary Clinton …”
On the other hand, there's Yahoo's 2015 Garcetti puff piece — one of the highlights of which was this:
I hadn’t mentioned the 2016 vice-presidential sweepstakes, but Garcetti began to talk about it anyway.
“I went through this with a friend recently,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Who would you put on a shortlist of five Democrats — off the top of your head — who should be vice president, for Hillary or whomever?’ And there aren’t, like, two or three superstars who jump out right away.”
Garcetti shook his head. “I mean, I’ve been on a number of panels,” he said, “and people have been like, ‘They should vet you!’”
I couldn’t tell whether he considered the idea intriguing, or ridiculous, or both.
It could be that, more than anything, Garcetti comes off as someone who wants to be considered for the job of vice president — but not someone who actually wants the job.
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