Political predictions can be a foolish game. I just reviewed several dozen or so articles and postings from various news organizations and so-called "experts" filed not too long ago that all predicted, incorrectly as it turns out, that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would run for governor in 2010.
So much for that.
It is, therefore, probably foolish to make this next political prediction -- and, if it turns out wrong -- someone, somewhere, someday will no doubt cite it as yet another example of why such tea leaf reading is a dangerous art, indeed.
With this disclaimer now firmly established, let me go on, then, to say I believe that Villaraigosa will run for the US Senate in 2012. Already, there are some who are starting the drumbeat for this -- and, no, I am not one of them by virtue of writing this post. I am simply amplifying what I am already hearing and trying to explain why I think there is a good reason to believe that, this time, the outlook on Villaraigosa's political future will turn out to be an accurate one.
First and foremost, after Villaraigosa concludes his current term as mayor of Los Angeles, he would, politically, have no where else to go, having passed on his chance to run for governor in 2010. And, I just don't see someone with Villaraigosa's energy and ego (the first abundant; the second, huge) fading into the obscurity of some private sector job.
The key to the mayor's political future, as is often the case in politics, is being held not by Villaraigosa, but by someone else.
That someone is Senator Dianne Feinstein.
There are those who still think she may just opt to run for governor after all and challenge the perceived, though not officially declared, front runner, Jerry Brown. If so, and if she wins, that would leave a Democratic seat open in the Senate.
But even if Feinstein elects not to seek election to state office, her current term in the Senate concludes in 2012. It is not indelicate to point out, as others already have, that she will be closing in on 80 by that time.
This could prove to be the perfect timing for Villaraigosa to make his move.
Although his reelection to another term as mayor was not exactly the result of a voter stampede to the polls, it would be terribly myopic, and just plain wrong, to presume that the mayor has lost the considerable political skills that got him elected to City Hall in the first place.
Villaraigosa's strengths, some have argued, better lend themselves to a legislative position than an executive one: He is good at compromise and negotiation. Just the combination most effective in a legislative body such as the United States Senate.
Many have been puzzled by his decision recently not to run for governor; I am not. That's because I think he has already begun seriously entertaining the notion of running for the US Senate.
Charles Feldman is a journalist,media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think- The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has covered police and politics in L.A. since 1995 and currently contributes investigative reporting to KNX 1070 Newsradio.