Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hinted Saturday that he might run for governor of California in two years, but would not confirm the information to reporters except to say that he would be making an announcement soon.
When asked by an audience member after his speech when he would run for governor, Villaraigosa responded that he would be “making an announcement” a couple of days after the election, then stopped short after seeing a television news camera.
“That little camera over there,” Villraigosa said, halting himself.
When reporters asked about the strategic timing of his announcement after the election, Villaraigosa said, “it is 20 months from now,” hinting at the possibility of a gubernatorial run.
“Nobody’s watching right now. They’re screaming right now,” he added, referencing the state of national politics, which was the theme of Villaraigosa’s remarks.
He had a speech prepared touching on California issues, but tossed it in the trash on the way to Bakersfield when he saw a few clips of the speeches at the conference.
Instead, he delivered an off-the-cuff talk and open discussion about the state of politics, urging that politicians need to work with each other.
“I was going to talk California issues, then realized it was a partisan crowd and that we all wanted to talk civility,” Villaraigosa said after his speech.
He discussed the current polarization and division of the nation, the unwillingness of politicians to work together and name-calling that has become so commonplace.
“What’s wrong with our politics today? We’re not talking together anymore,” Villaraigosa said. “We just scream at each other. I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat – I love my country. That’s what it starts out with.”
Villaraigosa just finished a 44-day listening tour of the state, he said. He spent half those days in the Central Valley.
He said he learned that three out of the top five most impoverished cities in America are in the Central Valley, that water isn’t an esoteric issue about lawns going brown and that “there’s a lot of good people in the Central Valley.”
The drought, Villaraigosa said, is about “the lifeblood of people who work with their hands … and put food on our table.”
Villaraigosa also recited a portion of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the midst of the Civil War.
“Let’s start with respecting one another and not demonizing one another, and let’s figure out how we move our city, our state and our country ahead. You know why?” Villaraigosa asked. “Because we don’t need another civil war.”