Politics

For Garcetti, there’s no escape from L.A.

For a Democrat who entered the presidential election cycle with excessive prospects, it marked the top of a tough fall.

“For a long time, there’s been this aura around Eric Garcetti that he’s somebody with a great future, that he will ascend to great heights of power,” mentioned Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic strategist in Los Angeles. “And in the world of politics, that means that everybody’s nice to him and lots of people like to be around him. And then that feeds the sense that he’s somebody of consequence.”



Sragow mentioned, “Sometimes that turns out to be true, and sometimes things don’t work out that way, at least for the time being.”

Two years in the past, Garcetti was getting ready for a widely-expected run for president, elevating money for Democrats throughout the nation and positioning himself — and mayors like him — as an antidote to dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

Today, he presides over a metropolis that has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus and is beset by a pandemic-induced price range disaster, homelessness and a rise in violent crime. A public corruption probe has engulfed City Hall. And by subsequent month, Garcetti will be deposed in a lawsuit accusing a former prime aide of sexual harassment. His 9-year-old daughter, Maya, has examined optimistic for coronavirus, and Garcetti and his wife are in quarantine.

If there was any excellent news for Garcetti in any respect, it was the prospect that he would possibly lastly get a break from the Black Lives Matter-aligned activists who had been banging drums each day for weeks outdoors of his residence to protest a possible appointment.

“He ain’t gonna be secretary of s—,” Melina Abdullah, a Black Lives Matter organizer, said before Garcetti’s announcement. Once it got here, she added, “We’re glad to not see him failing forward.”

Garcetti framed his choice as a selection. “As the administration reached out to me about serving,” he said, “I let them know early this week that my city needs me now, and that I want to be here and that I need to be here.”

But a number of Democrats near Garcetti mentioned he would have left for the administration if the provide had been ok. Instead, Biden picked Gina McCarthy, the previous Environmental Protection Agency head, as his home local weather coverage chief, and Buttigieg for Transportation.

Garcetti, a good friend of Buttigieg, as soon as joked that he was “the older, straighter Pete Buttigieg.” But Buttigieg is heading into the Cabinet. And like Rahm Emanuel, the previous Chicago mayor who had been campaigning for Transportation secretary, Garcetti is on the sidelines.

“Pete took Eric’s air all the way through this thing,” mentioned Doug Herman, who was a lead mail strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and a senior adviser to Garcetti in his first mayoral run in 2013. “In the campaign, in terms of running, in terms of being the voice of the cities,” and now “in terms of getting a Cabinet position that Eric was mentioned for.”

It’s laborious to take a look at the arc of Garcetti’s final two years by way of any lens apart from missed alternative. In the run as much as the presidential main, Garcetti was as soon as thought-about a extra credible contender than Buttigieg or a number of different mayors and former mayors contemplating campaigns. The mayor of the nation’s second-largest metropolis, the now-49-year-old of Mexican-Italian-Jewish descent represented a brand new era of Democratic management from outdoors the Beltway.

And Garcetti didn’t lack ambition. He traveled extensively, beginning a nonprofit group of mayors, labor and enterprise leaders to fund investments in cities across the nation. And he generated goodwill by utilizing his connections to Hollywood money to assist increase money for state Democratic events at a time when get together operations in lots of states have been skinny.

Ultimately, Garcetti balked on the presidential marketing campaign, saying being mayor was “what I am meant to do.” But even in his demurral — and even together with his issues in Los Angeles — Garcetti appeared to have punched his ticket to D.C. An early endorser of the previous vice chairman, Garcetti co-chaired Biden’s marketing campaign and helped to vet candidates for vice chairman.

“Look, he did everything that he was supposed to,” Herman mentioned. “He made public endorsements … He stuck his neck on the line with fundraising. He was there in a real way, and early. When it wasn’t cool to be on Team Biden, Eric was there.”

Had Biden reciprocated, a possible particular election to exchange Garcetti would have upended politics in Southern California, drawing a large subject of contenders for mayor. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, a former state lawmaker, has already announced that he is running for mayor in 2022 and would virtually actually have run in a particular election. City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mark Ridley-Thomas, a former state lawmaker and county supervisor, have been among the many potential candidates, as was Councilman Kevin de León, the previous Democratic state Senate chief who ran unsuccessfully towards Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018.

Now all of them will wait. And so, too, will Garcetti, whose likeliest path ahead shall be as a mid-term appointment by Biden.

As the Biden administration evolves, Herman mentioned, Garcetti will doubtless be the “first person off the bench … I definitely don’t think this is end of the road for him.” And former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky mentioned Garcetti’s prospects aren’t dimmed.

“This is not a time to write Eric Garcetti’s obituary,” mentioned Yaroslavsky, who now directs the Los Angeles Initiative on the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Biden remembers his friends, and Garcetti is his friend.”

Garcetti might want to preserve it that manner. Through a spokesman, Garcetti declined to remark. But if not for a later appointment, it’s unclear the place Garcetti might go. He’s not among the many subject of Democrats thought-about more likely to be appointed to exchange Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, and Los Angeles mayors don’t have a wealthy file of success on their very own in statewide campaigns. No Los Angeles mayor has ascended to the governor’s workplace.

The compounding drawback for Garcetti is that it’s also troublesome for Angelenos — aside from election season, when California’s money beckons — to maintain the eye of D.C. With Los Angeles far from the nation’s political and media facilities, East Coast dwellers view politicians right here because the “JV squad,” mentioned Antonio Villaraigosa, the previous Los Angeles mayor.

“They seem to think that East Coast cities a fraction of L.A.’s size and importance are more significant,” he mentioned.

Still, Villaraigosa mentioned, “In a couple years, when [Garcetti’s] term is over, I really do think someone like Biden would be open to him.”

For Garcetti, he mentioned, “I don’t think it’s over.”

Jeremy B. White contributed to this report.



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