Antonio Villaraigosa kicks the tires – Orange County Register

Even though the next California gubernatorial election is two years away, the campaign to succeed Gov. Gavin Newsom is well underway. The list of announced and potential candidates is a who’s-who of Golden State politics.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, former state Senate leader Toni Atkin and former Controller Betty Yee are among the Democrats who have already announced their plans to run.

Attorney General Rob Bonta and former state Attorney General and current U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra have also floated the idea of running.

As if the Democratic field isn’t crowded enough. Billionaire Republican-turned-independent-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Rick Caruso has also been suspected of planning a run for something. Politico reported last October that Caruso also hadn’t ruled out a possible run for governor.

On May 30, Politico reported that another longtime Democratic politician is considering a run — former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“Villaraigosa has been touting a new poll, in conversations with supporters and acquaintances across the state in recent days, that he says shows him in a strong position to succeed Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2.5 years,” Dustin Gardiner and Lara Korte reported.

Villaraigosa ran for governor in 2018 but came in a distant third in the primary behind Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox, getting just 13.3% of the vote.

While this editorial board largely disagrees with the policy positions of Villaraigosa on most issues, he has been a longtime supporter of school choice and education reform.

While the Democratic establishment in California has become largely beholden to the California Teachers Association, Villaraigosa has long defended charter schools, criticized teachers layoffs by seniority and has been willing to critique the current tenure system for public school teachers.

As mayor of Los Angeles, he accurately described the United Teachers Los Angeles as “one unwavering roadblock to reform.”

“At every step of the way, when Los Angeles was coming together to effect real change in our public schools, UTLA was there to fight against the change and slow the pace of reform,” he said.

While many politicians like to pretend they speak truth to power, Villaraigosa actually did it and has been willing to speak up for students at a time when most politicians aren’t willing or capable of doing the same.

As far as the potential Democratic candidates, Villaraigosa at least has real clarity when it comes to the issue of education.

In a state where most students aren’t meeting the state’s own standards on mathematics and English Language Arts, and consistently rank near the bottom on standardized tests, that matters.

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