Not long ago, Hillary, on one of her fundraising swings through LA, anointed Antonio Villaraigosa as one of her national campaign chairs. I'm sure Hillary's people thought this was a swell idea. If you expect to win California, expect to win millions of those highly coveted Latino votes, you've got to have a dynamic Latino mayor in your camp, right? And who better than the charming, energetic leader of America's second-largest city. A politician with an irresistible up-by-the-bootstraps story? Even the hopelessly provincial New Yorker recently ran a profile of the toothy mayor.
But as anyone who's lived in LA for 15 minutes knows, Antonio isn't very popular around here these days. He's not all that great a mayor. He couldn't get his school reform bill through giving him power over LAUSD, even though he had several buddies in Sacramento carrying his water. The notorious May Day melee where the LAPD was caught beating up immigrants occurred on his watch. He acted like LA had the Olympics in the bag--then when it didn't come through, pouted like a two-year-old.
For that matter he isn't very nice to waiters either.
Hillary is under the illusion that she's getting a rising political star--a future governor of California! But she might want to do some old-fashioned reporting. Antonio isn't much liked even among LA's Latino political elite. He burned a lot of bridges in his relentless quest to become mayor.
And now we have the split from his wife Corina over an alleged affair. Ah, me. When Antonio was Assembly Speaker, I covered him for a brief time in Sacramento. You could hardly walk down a Capitol hallway without hearing titters about his philandering. So when the mayor's office issued a press release last week announcing the breakup with his wife, it was hardly earth shattering.
And that's where Antonio should have left it: with a nice dignified press release. But no. He had to hold a press conference, he had to bring in the cameras. He loves the cameras. And he had to trot out two daughters from previous relationships to stand beside him.
This was the most cynical of posturing. Was this supposed to convey what a great dad he is since his two kids with Corina were nowhere in sight?
Naturally reporters thought they had been summoned to ask questions about the end of the mayor's marriage. Or some such craziness. But Antonio refused to answer any. He refused to say if an affair had led to the split and asked for "privacy" for his family.
So why the press conference? Was it because he knew that the very next day Corina was filing for divorce? Or is there some other scandal?
Hillary, do yourself a favor if you want to win California: dump Antonio.
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