Mayor to stay in L.A., won’t run in 2010

After months of swirling rumors, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday that he will not run in the 2010 California gubernatorial election.

Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer Monday, Villaraigosa cited a need to remain in Los Angeles and see the city through its fiscal crisis and the policy initiatives he has launched since first taking office in 2005.

“I recognize that I’ve got a lot of work to do,” Villaraigosa said on the show. “…And I’ve got to do a better job, even, than the job we’ve been doing in the past four years.”

While Villaraigosa was re-elected in March for his second term as mayor of Los Angeles — which begins July 1 and lasts until 2012 — he only has an approval rating of 55 percent, according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll which asked Democratic voters to rate the performance of potential gubernatorial candidates.

When Blitzer mentioned the statistic to Villaraigosa, the mayor cited a struggling city as the reason.

“That’s what happens when you’re mayor, you’re the focus of the good times and the bad,” Villaraigosa said. “In a time when the unemployment rate is at 12.5 percent, a 55 percent approval isn’t so bad.”

Villaraigosa’s announcement opens the way for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who announced his gubernatorial candidacy earlier this year, and former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not yet announced his candidacy but is expected to run.

Experts say while Newsom could carry young voters who might have otherwise voted for Villaraigosa, because Brown has a strong base in Southern California, he could potentially gain support from Latino, black and elderly voters.

After his appearance on
“The Situation Room,” Villaraigosa told reporters that while he thought he could fix the “abomination” state politics in Sacramento has become, he remained dedicated to Los Angeles.

“I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of what’s broken in Sacramento, but I just couldn’t get beyond the fact that I love this job and I love this city that I was born and raised in,” he said.