Although she is the only declared candidate, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has been racking up endorsements in the race to become the next U.S. Senator from the Golden State. The other major Democratic would-be candidate, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has not yet decided if he will enter the race.
According to an article in this week’s Los Angeles Times highlighting the number of endorsements that Harris has received thus far, one of the goals in amassing support from key groups and political players is to discourage Villaraigosa from entering the race:
“Indeed, for Harris, the ritual of rolling out endorsements has appeared to be largely about fending off Villaraigosa, a fellow Democrat whose allies say he is leaning toward announcing his candidacy and could do so soon.
She started with two of the most prominent African Americans in Los Angeles politics: City Council President Herb Wesson, a longtime Villaraigosa ally, and county Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey. Their support for Harris, who is black, suggested Villaraigosa cannot take for granted his once strong support among African Americans.
Next came a spate of Latino backers: Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera and former state Democratic Chairman Art Torres.
Villaraigosa, who would be California’s first Latino senator, would need broad Latino support in Southern California to offset Harris’ strength in the Bay Area.”
While Harris continues to gain endorsements, a recent poll that was conducted for the Los Angeles County Young Democrats that showed Harris with a commanding lead over Villaraigosa by 45 to 23 percent in a head to head match up. However, another poll shows Villaraigosa leading Harris 23% to 15% among Latino voters. But Latinos only represent about 17% of the state’s likely voters. Villaraigosa was in Washington, D.C. this week receiving an award from the League of United Latin American Citizens, and he made no announcements about his plans for entering the race.
There have been some reports about Latinos being upset that Kamala Harris is getting so much attention and support from the political leadership, but the reality is that Harris jumped into the race head first while Villaraigosa has continued to put off making a decision. There’s also the math part of the equation where the Latino electorate is still smaller in the state relative to the overall size of the Latino population.
Late last month former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown suggested that Villaraigosa sit out this race.
Photo credit: CA Attorney General Kamala Harris signs paperwork in SF to run for reelection. She’s currently running unopposed. via Nick St. Charles, licensed under CC BY 2.0