POLITICS

Antonio Villaraigosa Is Not Running For Senate In California

02/24/2015 05:15 pm ET | Updated Feb 24, 2015
JC Olivera via Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will not run for California's open Senate seat in 2016, the Democrat told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

"I am humbled by the encouragement I've received from so many to serve in the United States Senate," Villaraigosa said in a statement to the Times. "But as I think about how best to serve the people of this great state, I know that my heart and my family are here in California, not Washington, D.C."

Villaraigosa's announcement ends weeks of speculation that the former mayor would seek retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D) seat. With the longtime senator's impending retirement, California has an open Senate seat for the first time since 1992.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) announced her candidacy last month, while Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra, Loretta Sanchez and Adam Schiff have expressed interest in running. On the Republican side, California Assemblyman Rocky Chávez has said he's exploring running.

Environmentalist Tom Steyer and California Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom have also said they will not run. (Newsom has instead launched a bid for governor in 2018, an office Villaraigosa may also seek.)

Villaraigosa served as Los Angeles mayor from 2005 to 2013. In 2008, he was a national co-chair for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, raising his profile on the national stage. In 2012, he was selected as chairman of the Democratic National Convention and fundraised with President Barack Obama in Los Angeles.

Harris, who was the first candidate to officially jump in the race, has already secured the backing of several prominent Democrats. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren backed Harris in an email to supporters, praising the attorney general for "consistently [standing] up to Wall Street." Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have also expressed support for Harris.

"Mayor Villaraigosa and I have been friends and colleagues for many years," Harris said in a statement. "The city of Los Angeles, and our state and nation, have benefited greatly from his leadership. I know he has much more to offer. I wish him and his family all the best."

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