Vil­laraigosa jabs at New­som

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Michael Fin­negan michael.fin­negan@la­times.com

For­mer L.A. mayor sug­gests his ri­val in gu­ber­na­to­rial race is a fin­ger-in-the-wind politi­cian.

The ri­valry be­tween An­to­nio Vil­laraigosa and Gavin New­som in­ten­si­fied Sat­ur­day as the for­mer Los Angeles mayor sug­gested his chief op­po­nent in the gover­nor’s race was a fin­ger-inthe-wind politi­cian un­wor­thy of lead­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s re­sis­tance to Pres­i­dent Trump.

“His M.O. is to be for some­thing, then be against it, then be for it again, de­pend­ing on the polls or pop­u­lar whim,” Vil­laraigosa said af­ter a speech on im­mi­gra­tion at East Los Angeles Col­lege, al­lud­ing to New­som’s stands on high-speed rail and a sin­gle-payer health­care sys­tem.

With the June 2018 pri­mary still a full year away, Vil­laraigosa’s at­tacks on the lieu­tenant gover­nor came re­mark­ably early in the cam­paign. In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Vil­laraigosa dropped any pre­tense that his veiled crit­i­cisms of un­named Democrats in re­cent weeks were aimed at any­one other than New­som, a for­mer San Francisco mayor.

“I call them Davos Democrats, who f ly over the homes of peo­ple left be­hind, but never have been in their liv­ing rooms,” he said, nam­ing New­som as one of those Democrats. “I grew up in those liv­ing rooms.”

New­som cam­paign spokesman Dan New­man said he would not dig­nify Vil­laraigosa’s “pile of in­ac­cu­rate silli­ness” with tit-for-tat re­sponses.

“I find it cu­ri­ous and a bit dis­ap­point­ing how early in the cam­paign An­to­nio has shrunk to ju­ve­nile name­call­ing and facile neg­a­tiv­ity,” New­man said in an email. “I re­ally be­lieve that vot­ers — par­tic­u­larly in the Trump era — are ea­ger for more pos­i­tive, in­tel­li­gent, and sub­stan­tive dis­cus­sions. Hope­fully he’ll join us in that ef­fort at some point.”

A poll last month by the UC Berke­ley In­sti­tute of Gov­ern­men­tal Stud­ies found 22% of likely vot­ers sup­port­ing New­som and 17% back­ing Vil­laraigosa. A hand­ful of other can­di­dates were clus­tered in the sin­gle dig­its.

New­som was the fa­vorite of up­scale white lib­er­als, es­pe­cially in the Bay Area, while South­ern Cal­i­for­ni­ans, Lati­nos and vot­ers with lower in­comes pre­ferred Vil­laraigosa. Both are Democrats.

New­som’s steady lead in re­cent polls makes him an in­evitable tar­get, but so far Vil­laraigosa is the only one to at­tack him. Their ri­valry was spawned a dozen years ago when both were high­pro­file may­ors as­pir­ing to statewide and per­haps na­tional of­fice.

“I think it was in­evitable that we would end up where we are, on the same bal­lot, and that al­ways made for an in­ter­est­ing po­lit­i­cal dance, to be can­did,” New­som said in April. “You al­ways felt that, and it’s un­for­tu­nate.”

On Sat­ur­day, Vil­laraigosa cam­paigned at a Cal­i­for­nia Latino Con­greso fo­rum on im­mi­gra­tion at East L.A. Col­lege in Mon­terey Park. He de­scribed Trump’s anti-Mex­i­can rhetoric as part of a long tra­di­tion.

Vil­laraigosa told the au­di­ence that hun­dreds of thou­sands of U.S. cit­i­zens of Mex­i­can an­ces­try were forced to “repa­tri­ate” to Mex­ico in the 1930s, and that more mass de­por­ta­tions oc­curred in the ’50s un­der Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower.

In the in­ter­view af­ter­ward, Vil­laraigosa shifted his fo­cus to New­som. “Gavin, he tweets a lot, but I think peo­ple want more than tweets and talk,” he said. “They’re look­ing for lead­er­ship.”

Vil­laraigosa ar­gued that his years as a pres­i­dent of the ACLU’s South­ern Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter and speaker of the state As­sem­bly gave him real-world ex­pe­ri­ence that New­som can’t match.

“I came out of the civil rights move­ment,” he said. “I’ve stood up for jus­tice and equal­ity my whole life, for work­ing peo­ple.” Turn­ing sar­cas­tic, he added: “So you know, ‘re­sist’ with talk and tweets? Yeah. That’s not what peo­ple are look­ing for.”

Michael Fin­negan Los Angeles Times

FOR­MER L.A. Mayor An­to­nio Vil­laraigosa, now a can­di­date for gover­nor, cam­paigns in Mon­terey Park.

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