Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in remarks published Monday that his predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, performed badly in last week’s primary election largely because of poor messaging.
Villaraigosa came in third; Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor, came in first, followed by John Cox, a Republican. The November election will pit Newsom against Cox.
Garcetti told the New York Times that much of the blame should be placed with charter school supporters, including Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg, who set up an independent committee and spent millions of dollars on behalf of Villaraigosa.
“His allies overplayed the importance of an old educational debate and spent $23 million on `are you pro-charter, pro-reform,’ versus pro-teacher, pro-union, which was a stupid and silly waste of money,” he said. “If, you know, I had that much money to spend, I would have been spending it differently.”
Garcetti added that Villaraigosa sent a muddled, who-am-I message to voters, many of whom did not know him outside of Los Angeles.
“It’s also tough to both pull in Republicans, which I think that’s what that money was supposed to partially help do, he would be the guy who wasn’t as liberal and also say, Hey, Gavin Newsom is the elitist candidate and I’m about the working man,” Garcetti said. “It’s confusing, it’s two different messages.” He added, “If it’s all about, ‘I’m going to be the person who really fights and ends poverty,’ plant your flag and go through with that one.”
But Garcetti said that Villaraigosa was in a tough position: running against a popular opponent and constrained by law from coordinating with the independent committees.
“And lastly, he got killed off by President Trump,” Garcetti said, referring to Donald Trump’s endorsement of Cox in a bid to make sure Republicans had at least one statewide candidate on the ballot this November.