Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, long viewed in the Capitol as a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, said Tuesday that he will announce his political plans “within a few days” of the Nov. 8 election.
Villaraigosa, 63, a former Assembly speaker during the 1990s, served as L.A. mayor from 2005 to 2013.
He stopped short of making a formal announcement, but left little doubt about his plans.
“I think everybody knows where it’s headed,” he said. He would announce, he added, “right after the election …. within a few days of the election.”
Villaraigosa, who has ties to presidential contender Hillary Clinton and served in ranking positions at Democratic national conventions and campaigns, said he had not been approached to serve in a Clinton administration.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to run for governor shortly after the last election. His early announcement helped him build a substantial war chest.
State Treasurer John Chiang, also a Democrat, has formed a committee to raise funds, and Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist who has poured millions of dollars into political campaigns, is a possible candidate.
Earlier Tuesday, Democrat Delaine Eastin, a former legislator and state Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1995 to 2003, announced her plans to run for governor.
Villaraigosa’s candidacy could galvanize California’s Latino electorate, which while large in numbers does not vote in proportion to its strength.
The entrance of major Democratic candidates shows the Democrats’ deep bench, but also portends an intense scramble for funds as candidates struggle against each other to carve out a niche.
Newsom, who declared first, had raised about $5 million through the end of 2015, and added another $3 million from his lieutenant governor’s account.