Mayor Eric Garcetti hardly needed the support of former President Obama to strengthen his campaign for reelection, but he asked for it anyway during a party at the White House last month.
On Tuesday, Garcetti declared himself the first candidate to win Obama’s endorsement since his presidency ended. The first was actually a Chicago alderman, Sophia King.
Obama, last seen kite surfing in the British Virgin Islands, did not travel to California for the announcement. Garcetti made do with an image of the former president on a TV monitor at his campaign office in Windsor Square.
“Eric is my friend, loyal ally and a great and visionary mayor of Los Angeles,” Obama said in a statement released by Garcetti, who faces 10 little-known challengers in the March 7 election.
A California co-chair of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Garcetti recalled meeting with Obama in the Oval Office before deciding whether to run for mayor in 2013.
At the time, Garcetti was an L.A. city councilman considering a job heading urban policy at the White House, the mayor said. But Obama urged him to “listen to your heart” and run for mayor instead, Garcetti said.
The president declined to endorse Garcetti in the 2013 mayor’s race, when he faced a tough campaign against several well-known fellow Democrats.
Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, attended Obama’s goodbye party at the White House two weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, and it was there that the mayor asked for the endorsement. An Obama spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the former president was backing the mayor.
Garcetti’s announcement was a blow to one of his challengers, campaign consultant Mitchell Schwartz, who was the state director of Obama’s California campaign in 2008.
5:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a clarification that Garcetti was not Obama’s first endorsement since leaving the presidency.
4:55 p.m.: This article was updated with confirmation of the endorsement by a spokesman for former President Obama.
This article was originally published at 2:05 p.m.