Antonio is back on the ballot, will Latinos give him another chance?

The contours of the gubernatorial race have begun to sharpen.  This is an important race, California has become the focal point of leadership for the resistance.  California also is the richest and largest state in the nation with a $2.3 trillion dollars economy.  The state is not only “the forefront of most of the modern-day innovations. but it also leads the nation in social policies and political discourse.” Two Republicans and many well-known Democrats are vying to replace termed-out Governor Brown.  In California’s top-two primary system, the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation will advance to the general election that will be held in November.

“25% or 5.2 million of all voters in California live in Los Angeles County.  A  47.5% plurality of this county is Latino voters.”  This might be the reason why former Mayor Villaraigosa is polling better than he did three or six months ago. Latinos might have started flocking to him.

In the last poll, it appeared that Mayor Villaraigosa might be heading for the general election as he is behind by two or three points from Lt. Governor Newsom, the leading candidate. It is within the margin of error and people in Newsom’s camp must be concerned.

California Democratic Party held its convention this past weekend and a consensus for endorsement couldn’t be reached for a candidate in the governor’s race.  Although this gubernatorial race looks like it is neck and neck, Villaraigosa only got 9% of the delegates support.   Nevertheless, if Newsom and Villaraigosa eventually make it to the general election, it would be an interesting election. Candidates have faced problems with ethics and fidelity in the past.  With a couple of exceptions, so far, all candidates have been cordial to one another.  But comes the fall, it is expected that the gloves will come off and mud will start flying.

First time I heard Antonio Villaraigosa speak,  I said wow, this man clearly is once in a generation leader. Charisma in abundance, a great speaker, a compelling life story and sterling-fighting-for-justice credentials.  He also used to be a former union organizer and ACLU president. He spoke from the heart and he passionately made the case for progressive policies and closing the gap of the profound inequities that existed in the distribution of resources.  His charisma and enticing and capturing smile substituted the lack of erudition and poetry in his speeches. Subsequently, he inspired hope in many people, me included.

Some history here for context, the former mayor emerged in the political firmament in the 1990s.  The time when Latinos in Los Angeles were demanding more inclusivity in the conversations of power.  Los Angeles was becoming browner and those in positions of power in the different institutions that comprised LA were not being receptive to the new demographics. A turning point in LA’s civic landscape took place when a Latino by the name of Miguel Contreras was elected to lead the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. This house of labor had been resisting change and was oblivion of the new immigrant workers.  Contreras not only shook off labor and provided a new vision but he also made the house of labor a political powerhouse.  Former Mayor Villaraigosa was very close to this labor leader.

A Latino winning the mayoral race in 2005 was a radical change in the city’s civic landscape.  Villaraigosa marched into city hall waving a flag of diversity that demanded more voices to be included in this city’s leadership. These demands were rooted in the realities on the ground, Latinos have reached a critical mass in the city and their needs were often being neglected.  The passage of Prop. 187  in the 1990s made our community realized that we could no longer stay on the sidelines-we needed to agitate and organize our community in order to acquire political power.  It was a new day in L.A. We started becoming citizens and started registering to vote and radically changed our civic institutions.

Mayor Villaraigosa has cheerleaders who love him to death and he also has detractors who dislike him with the same passion that his supporters love him.

His detractors see him as a finger-to-the-wind politician who blatantly chooses his own self-interest at the expense of the collective interest of the community. “Yes, the man didn’t do much for Latinos, he sold-out,” his detractors vehemently argue.  Those progressives on the left were utterly disappointed because Mayor Villaraigosa didn’t use the power of the offices he had held to advance more substantive progressive policies for the poor. Specifically, policies on housing, where he was expected to do more.

After Mayor Villaraigosa left city hall in 2013, he revealed during a recent gubernatorial debate hosted by Univision that when he was broke. Hence he needed to work.  He immediately went to work for the corporate capitalists and became a millionaire. While consulting for corporate people, Mayor Villaraigosa accepted shady gigs like the one for Herbalife which he publicly defended as being a good ethical company after it was reported that the company had been fined $200 million dollars by federal regulators for using pyramid scheme business fraudulent models that targeted and bilked humble Latino immigrants.

His supporters, on the other hand, argue that man is not perfect and he did what he could within the circumstances.  This group of supporters focuses on the policies that the former Mayor shepherded while being a mayor and Speaker of the Assembly. And they point out some of the following achievements:  Proposition R which raised $40 billion to improve public transit would not have been possible without Mayor Villaraigosa’s leadership.  He was also instrumental in bringing crime down in the city that eventually attracted billions of dollars for new developments.  And when it came to the environment, the man rolled up his sleeves and dealt with environmental problems head-on.  He spent some political capital took on business groups that saw “clean trucks” as an unnecessary expense needed to carry out business in Los Angeles.  He demanded these trucks to be used by Los Angeles Port know for being a major source of pollution in LA and other cities located nearby.

It is true his supporters claim, Mayor Villaraigosa might have given the finger to teachers’ union.  And, deservedly so, teachers have lost perspective of their mission which is to educate our children.  They have failed the most needed students in our communities of color.  Any change to our schools was rejected by waving the “privatization” flag and accusing those proposing the change of working for charter schools, these supporters claim without blinking.  These supporters see a display of leadership when Mayor Villaraigosa stood up to the teachers’ union.

They also claim that, while being a mayor, Villaraigosa was a powerful ally for other labor unions that were organizing poor people in this city.  They alluded to the role he played in helping poor people working as security guards to join a union.  He is credited with making the case to building owners to allow security guards to join a union. He also led the charge to expand “living wage” for hotel workers working close to the Airport, his supporters said.

Latino elected officials call themselves “progressives,” But they also like to win elections and know that poor folks are politically unorganized and don’t vote. Consequently, they see their self-preservation linked to the corporate interest.  They need these powerful corporate’s political contributions to stay in power.  Of course, occasionally these corporate democrats would drift into progressive land and pursue progressive policies, e.g., free first-year community college education, “The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” driver licenses for “illegal” immigrants, mandatory Chicano Studies for high school students etc.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez

Sources Consulted.
Cadelago, Christopher. “The truth behind Villaraigosa’s Herbalife gig and Newsom’s precious metals.” Sacramento Bee 26 Jan. 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

Drier, Peter “LA Magazine’s Failure: Irresponsible Journalism.” Huffington Post: Media 27 June 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.

California Democratic Party shocks Dianne Feinstein by not endorsing her.” 

Lacabe, Margarita. “The Reports of the Death of Chiang’s Campaign are greatly exaggerated.”  California Super-progressive anti-Corporate Political Activists 13 Feb. 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2018

Leibowitz, Ed. “Villaraigosa’s Lasting Legacy: You Fail Sometimes.” Los Angeles Magazine 10 April 2013. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

Marinucci, Carla. “Poll: California governor’s race a toss-up.” Politico 8 Feb. 2018. Web. 22 Feb. 2018.

Mehta, Seema. Phil Willion. “Former aide to Gavin Newsom speaks out about their affair while he was San Francisco mayor.”  Los Angeles Times 7 Feb. 2018. Web. 23 Feb. 2018.

Menezes, Ryan. Maloy Moore. “In the race to become California’s next governor, fundraising favors one candidate.” Los Angeles Times 5 Jan. 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.

Skeels, Robert D. ” Villaraigosa: The Myth of The Progressive Mayor.” LA Progressive 5 July 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2018.

Photo credit: Paula Abdul and Antonio Villaraigosa at the Ceremony Honoring Los Angeles Lakers’ Owner Jerry Buss with the 2,323rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA. 10-30-06.  Pic was obtained from Bigstock. The former mayor was on top of his game here.

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  1. Jared Williams February 28, 2018 at 4:41 am

    Great story but honestly I am not surprised that there is some doubt where he stands due to the quick turn around on his finances. I am new to California politics, so some of this information is surprising.
    I thought Newsome was a shoe in due to his past experience. I don’t see the demographics as being a defining factor as most don’t vote as a block. But as we have seen in the past few elections past is not prologue.

  2. Linda Guillen February 28, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I believe that most if not all politicians do what Mayor Villaraigosa did. The perfect example would be Hillary Clinton because she left those mothers in the Black Lives Matter movement just to go to the other place where Hispanics “needed” her. Just so that she would get votes for herself, not really caring for the actual people or the problem. Yeah, Mayor Villaraigosa did some good things, so I think it balances out. However, how society is people tend to focus more on what people did wrong. Mayor Villaraigosa also joined some shady gigs just to become a millionaire; I think that already says a lot about him as a person. It is all about the money now. So, what I believe is that every politician says what people want to hear and out of everything they promise very few things are actually done and completed how they said it would be done.

  3. Floyd D. Simmons Jr. February 28, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I don’t know what to expect from Villaraigosa (if he wins) or any other politician. There’s the side who support him and then there are those who don’t (so-called detractors). While reading this bio, both sides have strong arguments to support or not support Villaraigosa. I myself, am looking for that Black (Woman/Man) politician who can help or show the black race how we as a race; can achieve the same economic and political power that other races, that came to this country or was already here have accomplished. It seems to me, that the Latinos have or has already reached this goal for themselves as a race.

  4. Maria D Rios March 1, 2018 at 5:44 am

    It would have been great to see or to know that Villaraigosa really did care on the issues of education, economic development/ civic engagement issues. It is disappointing to see instead that our representatives sale out instead of holding up to the promises that got them the position.

    We need representative that have the care and the passion to make our communities better, to work for the new generations coming for the sake of the country and the people.

  5. Ester March 2, 2018 at 12:31 am

    He did inspire many people that a change will come to Los Angeles after 8 years, the way he leads and is a voice for the inequity still comes down to inequity. The reason why is because most of the people who live in LA, are Latinos based who want more power, but it is taken away in ways that people don’t have a clue in. To me this is typical; to me it is always about power and always has been. He only said certain things to get the Latino people on his side, after he has the people on his side he did not do what he claimed for us Latinos. I feel that this guy was more for the developments than the people, because this only raised the economical substances which are called taxes. Yeah maybe he did create more jobs and economical income to Los Angeles, but it was really for him not for the community, city or taxpayers. As we all know we have a big pollution problem in California, the city with more businesses equals excessive pollution in one point, by car jams, dirty people who think this earth is a trash can and litter everywhere. Life goes one and you will meet fake people who are run bizarre ideas and still have a broke system not functioning the way it should but the way they want.

    1. Brenda March 2, 2018 at 3:29 am

      Honestly don’t know what to say after reading this. I’ll admit according to his supporters he’s done a couple of good things to help immigrants, but at the same time he didn’t do much to create policies that were truly needed. Instead he defends herbalife reunions that were not always telling people the truth. He defended this company even after they were fined for using some type of pyramid scheme that mainly targeted latinos. I think what he did just isn’t right just isn’t right. I don’t know if next time around I’ll be voting for him after what I just read.

  6. Ana Fonseca March 2, 2018 at 3:47 am

    I think that although Villaraigosa has made some questionable decisions when he was major, he deserves a second chance. I do hope that this time he looks out not only for fellow Latinos but also other minorities who need just as much or more help, and that unlike most politicians he fulfills the promises he has made to the voters. I would like for him to actually take the initiative when it comes to education, he should stop blaming the teachers for student’s failures since there are other factors that may contribute to their failure. I also think that his supporters should stop treating him like some god, they shouldn’t ignore his wrongdoings and hold him accountable. Likewise, his critics should forgive and forget, Villaraigosa did what he could when he was in office.

  7. Jose March 2, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Villaraigosa, as a latino, communicated great with latinos. While he was mayor it was the only time my parents would know about what the mayor was up to because he was latino. With garcetti my parents really don’t care.

    Villaraigosa made lots of promises which he did not fulfill to the latino community. he promised and after he got what he wanted he sold out. he did create more jobs but that was pretty much it for the community. all politicians promise and promise but cant fulfill those promises. We have heard about that in all types of elections.

  8. Vanessa T March 2, 2018 at 5:34 am

    I feel that they will vote for Villaraigosa again simply because he did do a lot for the Hispanic community. I know for sure he was about the people. Just because he didn’t follow through on every thing he mentioned or promised doesn’t mean that the people wont vote for him. I had a few Latino friends and a lot of them stayed in tuned to what he was doing just because he was Latino. My Grandmother like’s him also, I would always hear about him being doing something in the Community for children and the elderly. So I believe if Trump could become President any thing is possible.

    1. David Thompson March 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Of course Antonio deserves another term, he is more in tune with the problems of day to day people. Who just want a fair chance to survive and provide for their families. Without worrying about will we make rent next month, or food on the table and clean clothes on our backs

  9. Melisa Ibarra March 2, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Villaraigosa will not be the first nor last politician to have something “shady” going on. I do not know much about politics but I believe every person has their good and bad. Of course the majority of the people always only think about that bad and tend to forget about the good they have done or are doing. I also believe that he might just be saying all this just to earn some votes for at the end of the day that is all they care about. They say what the public wants to hear so that they can secure their spot but do they end up doing everything they promise , no.

  10. Liz Reyes March 2, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    When in the political race there is always going to be many controversy, especial in elections. This man Antonio Villaraigosa, he has seem to have both his positives and negatives. However as a politician, it’s basically the same with almost everyone. They make many promises but the story seems to change when they’re elected.
    The man did do things where he found the support from his followers. He provide help for the poor, and cared for children’s education. But at the same time he had people that really disliked him. What he did with support the bad business that Herbalife was doing got many to dislike him.
    I honestly don’t know what to expect, there can a possibly that he might get the amount of votes to win. He probably will say the word he needs to speak to get the votes he is wants to get.

  11. Eshan Harith March 2, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    It is a great thing to see or know that politicians like Villaraigosa really care about major problems like education and economic developments in the city. Also, it is a great thing to know what he has done for the Hispanic community. As Maria mentioned, it is a disappointment to see representatives sales out their promises that got them the position. United State needs representatives that truly care about all the communities stay all around the country .

  12. Yarmil Abrego March 2, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I am one of many Latinos that voted for Antonio Villaraigosa, as his turn when on I did not see any great impacts on progress for the Hispanic Community. I thought that he would find the problems most Hispanics were having and help change those problems, but I saw a big nothing. I do not see myself voting for him again. What I did understand about this article is the politicians need corporations to help them with their campaigns but do not look for corporations that support their promises to the people. That is wrong. If a politician is in politics is to serve the people and not themselves.

  13. Dulce March 3, 2018 at 2:44 am

    I feel like Villaraigosa feels he has the advantage that he is Hispanic and he for sure uses that advantage to his benefit. He might have done good things for the city of Los Angeles but is that good enough? Is that all he is able to offer us as a city ? a community ? and as the Hispanic race? I would hope his “focus” is not only to the Hispanic/Latino community but for every race. I am not into politics but I am slowly learning. Villaraigosa had his chance to do as much as he could for our city . My opinion is if that was as much as he could do for us and he tried his best; then maybe his “best” is not good enough. We need a leader that will not just offer us things. We need a leader that will keep his word. Will do things that will benefit us all and not just get rich while being our mayor. No more false promises ! actions really do speak louder than words.

  14. Brittney Rivera March 4, 2018 at 5:42 am

    I can see why many people would be frustrated or angered with Villaraigosa. He made empty promises for the community in Los Angeles when everyone had so much hope. I believe once the trust of the community is lost, it will be hard to gain it back.
    As for the supporters, I also see what he has done for the community in regards to transit/transportation. The simple fact that he was able to increase profit because of it, is something to acknowledge.
    At the end of it all, I believe he should get a second chance. We may never know if he does help out community this second time around. And also something to ponder, you can’t expect much from politicians. They don’t help the people at the end of the day but let’s not give up hope!

  15. Kassandra Sanchez March 4, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    I think Antonio Villaraigosa will be voted for again. It is needless to say that he has the Latino community on his side, which is now the majority here in Los Angeles. Just like the article said, he has charisma, great back-story, and credentials. This is basically what is needed as a foundation in order to be a great politician; just think of John F. Kennedy as an example. With all of this Villaraigosa gives the city of Los Angeles hope in that he knows what is going around here and what needs to be done. He has loyal followers that will lead him to the victory he wants. Although he does have many people who don’t agree with what he’s said or done, I believe he has more followers than enemies. It seems to me that many people still have hope in him and gave him the benefit of the doubt for what he wasn’t able to accomplish. So I believe his people will give him a second chance.

  16. Tareikia Janai Buller March 5, 2018 at 1:49 am

    I honestly do not know much about Villaraigosa and it seems that people have many views on him. It also semmes that people have really opposite impressions of him some people see him as deceiving and manipulative against the people and some see him as for the people.I however can only say that if he is here to help and be all for EVERYONE and actually be a huge benefit then I am all for him but if the things are true about him manipulating his way through politics because certains culture and people from poor backgrounds are unaware then of course I am against him. The part of the vlog that speaks on him taking “shady gigs” was interesting me and stood out as the kind of things we should watch for.

  17. Jeff March 5, 2018 at 4:12 am

    Antonio Villaraigosa seems to be another hardworking politician. One who advocates publicly for an average hardworking civilian. Yet has accepted shady gigs like the one for Herbalife. Villaraigosa publicly defended as being a good ethical company after it was reported that the company had been fined $200 million dollars by federal regulators for using pyramid scheme business fraudulent models that targeted and bilked humble Latino immigrants. Personally upon reading this new piece of evidence it’ll be hard for any Latino to vote for this man. When he can smile to confidently in front of his own people, proves he’s just another hardworking politician.

  18. Andrew Park March 5, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Antonia Villaraigosa is the leader that people need today. Just by looking at this work with labor unions proves that he is a reasonable leader that is organized AND cares, which is hard to find in a (more often then not) corporately run politics. And despite his promises we’re less then satisfied in a social political environment where Latino leaders are needed, I see no problem with a veteran politician as Antonio Villaraigosa getting the votes he needs.

  19. David Thompson March 5, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Me personally I always thought ex mayor Villaraigosa has been a decent mayor for Los Angeles. I considered him more for the people, But you can only due so much because there is always someone pulling the strings or making the play calls. This was a decent story on the current circumstances that we face on a daily basic. We all know the lack of fairness and education will always be the difference on who can take advantage of you for the lack of youre rights. Far as the picture with Paula Abduhl that was just a political move on who supports his beliefs on the community.

  20. David Thompson March 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm


  21. Cristhian Ramos March 6, 2018 at 6:25 am

    After reading this bio I am surprised he would do that because from what I’ve known from him, he was for the people. I lost interest in politics but now realizing what I’ve missed caught me off guard and has me questioning how much do really know and trust our politicians. These representatives shouldn’t get an easy pass on some of their decisions.

  22. Hudzaifah March 6, 2018 at 6:52 am

    A few dozen migrants from Mexico looked up from the Salinas Valley field where they were picking strawberries and watched Antonio Villaraigosa’s convoy rumble toward them in a cloud of dust.

    Moments later, the former Los Angeles mayor, wearing shiny black dress shoes, stepped out of a sedan.
    “Hola, señora — Antonio Villaraigosa,” he told Estela Almanza, a fruit sorter.

    He inspected a handful of ripe berries for news cameras and greeted Almanza’s coworkers, most of them covered in hats, scarves and hoodies. “Buenas tardes. Hola.”

    The harvest was the highlight of a Monterey Bay campaign swing for Villaraigosa, a Democrat running for governor. It came almost 50 years after he broke into politics as an East L.A. teenager, urging Safeway shoppers to join a grape boycott for farmworker rights. He went on to serve as state Assembly speaker and win two terms as mayor.

    But now, four years after his mayoralty came to an end, Villaraigosa, 64, is no longer the scrappy upstart whose rise to power symbolized Latinos’ growing clout in California.

    Instead, he stands out as the oldest of the top contenders for governor in the June 2018 primary. He is painfully aware that Californians might deny him what he craves: one more act in public life.

    “Maybe it passed me up,” he conceded to guests at a July reception in Stockton. “Maybe I’m yesterday’s news. Maybe I’m just a guy who was starting out 20-some-odd years ago, broke glass ceilings — but maybe my time is over.”

  23. Rubi March 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    1) Applegate is a clear front runner and Levin is a carpetbagger. That is clear. 2) Harley is a DINO. Clear. 3) Min can win given the demographics in mimiville. Get over your whiny self. 4) Feinstein will blow her entire campaign chest and lose to De Leon. Demographics again. 5) Villaraigosa is a sick man. “House of Rage? Will only win votes of heavy metal latinos. 6-7-8) Locked for Dems. The biggest problem is two Dems in the final in many statewide races, depleting the cash that should be spent on other races. OC has two of the finest in this regard, losers Lowretta Sanchez and porno film connoisseur Julio “I never lost my milkteeth Perez. Wild card- Greg goes rogue, establishes Republican blog, Republicans spend months trying to get to the end of his posts, miss election due to confusion.

  24. Stephen April 18, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    After reading this blog post, something tells me that Latinos will most likely vote for Antonio Villaraigosa. I think this simply because he is Spanish and because representation in politics is important. Plus when Villaraigosa was first in office, he did a decent job; He was not a bad politician per se. Though I do believe we all deserve a second chance, I would not trust Villaraigosa. I feel that Antonio made his morals clear. His sole interest when he left office was money. Is it really okay for someone to leave office because they feel they are not wealthy enough? He’s back now because he’s made enough money to take on this job, while still living a comfortable life. It’s very unethical for him to put himself before the people of the community he should be serving. We should expect a new version of Villaraigosa. We know his true intentions now and the Latin community should be aware of who this man truly is before the head to the polls. I doubt he’s the same person people thought they were voting for the first time around because money changes people. Oh, he’s a millionaire now? How interesting! I just hope he is still in touch with his humble roots and is truly here to make change for the people with less money than him?


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