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Villaraigosa calls for open, accessible Democratic convention

February 15, 2012 | 12:11 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivers his State of the City address last April. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched his latest national-profile role Wednesday, promising as the chairman of the Democratic Party’s convention this fall that he will endeavor to create “the most open and accessible convention in history.”

The mayor adds the job to his resume at a time when he has to deal with reviving the Los Angeles economy and solving a budget shortfall that could hit $200 million. Villaraigosa is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and already was an active spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign, particularly in reaching out to Latinos. In a short video on our Politics Now blog, Villaraigosa asks viewers for suggestions on "how to make this convention your convention."

The prominent position will put him on stage repeatedly during the Democratic Party’s four-day nominating convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September, giving him extensive television exposure. Villaraigosa, whose second and final term as mayor ends in June 2013, has been coy about his future political ambitions, saying he wants to finish his mayoral tenure and then write and give speeches. But he is also widely believed to have his eye on the governor’s office or a Cabinet post in a second Obama administration.

In the brief conference call with the media, the mayor may have seen the benefit of private life versus yet another political campaign when one reporter mentioned his affair, an issue he has struggled to put behind him and that now rarely comes up in Los Angeles.


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Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivers his State of the City address in April. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times