It's amazing what can happen in a year. Around this time last summer, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted to an extra-marital affair, political allies distanced themselves from the East LA Golden Boy, and talk about the mayor becoming the next governor of California completely and utterly ceased...and it was almost exactly a year ago when he was loudly booed by soccer fans, many of whom were Latino, at a David Beckham media event. Then everything changed this presidential campaign season.
According to the LA Times, Villaraigosa is now the "Latino point man" for the Democratic party to capture the Hispanic vote for Senator Barack Obama. This is no small feat completed by the mayor, especially when you consider that Villaraigosa isn't the only Latino politician in the country. As Don King, the wily boxing promoter, loves to say, "Only in America!"
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama stands with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Washington D.C. yesterday. (photo courtesy of Obama for America)
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With his star status reborn--which the Times proudly, and therefore oddly, trumpets--Villaraigosa will now travel to any town or city where a sizable Latino voting block can put Obama in the White House. The mayor always describes these jaunts outside of Los Angeles as something that's "good" for the city, but it certainly doesn't hurt his political career: Villaraigosa gets more and more national press coverage, makes more and more political contacts throughout the country, and hits a fund raiser or two for his own campaign war chest...like he has recently in Chicago, New York City, and Florida.
Villaraigosa's first campaign stop on the behalf of Obama took place yesterday afternoon in Washington D.C., where he introduced the Democratic presidential candidate at the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens. It isn't even Labor Day--the traditional date when campaigns start to ramp up and political surrogates hit the road--and already Villaraigosa is stumping for the senator from Illinois.
It's now a good bet, if Villaraigosa's frenzied work for Senator Hillary Clinton's failed campaign is any indication, that the mayor will spend huge amounts of time on the trail--nowhere near Los Angeles--from now until Election Day in November. Then after the presidential race is over, the mayor will work on his re-election campaign from November to March. After all, the political big boys on the national scene won't come calling if you're the former mayor of Los Angeles.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.