Bass widens her lead over Caruso in L.A. mayor’s race
City Hall, which is under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is seen on May 29, 2007 in Los Angeles. Antonio Villaraigosa is looking to become LA’s first Hispanic mayor with an edge over his rival, Council President Eric Garcetti. He faces incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa in the May 2009 and November 2009 mayor’s races. REUTERS/Mike Blake
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A surge in support for Antonio Villaraigosa in the April 2 runoff for mayor was driven by his strength with Latinos and by his reputation in Washington for improving government, a campaign that broadened as polling tightened for the Nov. 2 contest.
Support for Villaraigosa, 39, surged as he sought to capitalize on fears that voters had abandoned him over his role as an activist and an advocate for better federal benefits, particularly after his plan to help the city’s homeless failed to gain traction earlier this year.
The latest Los Angeles Times poll found 67% of Los Angeles voters supporting Villaraigosa compared to 23% for Eric Garcetti, his Democratic opponent. Villaraigosa jumped ahead of Garcetti by 14 points in April.
Support for Villaraigosa also increased in the latest poll of the city’s four Latino communities, with support for him growing most prominently in East L.A. – where Latinos make up about 6% of the population – and in some of the city’s neighborhoods that had backed Garcetti over him before the runoff this year.
Villaraigosa, who is from the Eastside but has worked on issues such as economic development with Hispanic groups, has been campaigning since his victory in November that his “Hispanic agenda” will work to improve the quality of life in the city’s Latino communities. His message has paid off with Latino support, in particular.
“Our supporters are energized,” said Villaraigosa, a former state senator, in a press release after the poll results were in. “And our message is resonating with voters who need more Latinos in city hall.”
Villaraigosa faces a tough challenge from Garcetti, the former mayor, who is also supported by most Latinos.
Voters said their main concern was quality of life, with a majority saying government must improve, and a majority of the voters who said they