Four years after his mayoralty came to an end, Villaraigosa, 64, is no longer the scrappy upstart whose rise to power symbolized Latinos’ growing clout in California.
Instead, he stands out as the oldest of the top contenders for governor in the June 2018 primary.
The strength of Villaraigosa’s political base is also uncertain. He is counting on overwhelming support among Latinos. But many of them live beyond the reach of L.A. television and radio stations that have covered him closely for years, so they know little about him.
If he wins, Villaraigosa would be California’s first Latino governor since Romualdo Pacheco in 1875. In theory, his candidacy could spark unusually high Latino turnout, as it did when he won election in 2005 as the first Latino mayor of modern Los Angeles.