L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: Cruise control
Why is this man smiling?
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa finishes his first four-year term on a perch that any big-city politician would envy -- no strong opposition, cash in his campaign coffers and a City Hall that is closely in sync with his agenda.
His most formidable potential challenger, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, announced Friday that he would not run for the city's top office this year. While Caruso was explaining that decision, Villaraigosa was in Chicago appearing onstage with President-elect Barack Obama.
A second term would give Villaraigosa the opportunity to make further progress on goals he set out in his 2005 mayoral campaign, some of which have not been achieved. As he seeks reelection March 3, he will be in a position to strengthen his hold even further on L.A.'s political institutions -- ones with the power to shape policy on crime, education, transportation and the environment.
The City Council rarely challenges Villaraigosa's broader policy wishes. Two of the mayor's closest allies, council members Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel, are seen as front runners for city attorney and city controller, respectively.
--David Zahniser and Phil Willon
Backfill: As the noon deadline passed Saturday for candidates to enter Los Angeles' mayoral, City Council and school board elections in March, several new names emerged in various races, but there were no major surprises. More from Howard Blume.
Photo: Associated Press