Villaraigosa demurs on Senate prospects after Steyer bows out

Villaraigosa demurs on Senate prospects after Steyer bows out
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, shown in 2013, avoided Thursday discussing his potential run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

One of Antonio Villaraigosa’s most formidable potential rivals for U.S. Senate has opted not to run, but the former Los Angeles mayor shied from the subject Thursday night in Washington. 

"I have an important announcement to make," he joked before presenting an award named in his honor. "Dessert will be served in a moment."

If he was any more hopeful about his prospects after the announcement earlier in the day that billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer would not  seek U. S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat, Villaraigosa did not say so.

"I really don't have anything else to say right now," he said. "I can tell you that I called [Steyer] within a minute or two of receiving word.

"I have a lot of respect for him," Villaraigosa said.

As he worked the hallways of Washington, Latino leaders had begun a shadow campaign.

They challenged an emerging conventional wisdom that state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is now the clear front-runner and would be hard to catch. They said it was time that California sent a Latino to the Senate.

But Villairagosa avoided the topic. He also refused to say whether he had discussions while in Washington with two California Latinos in the House who, like Villaraigosa, are considering a Senate run.

"I had many meetings over the last couple of days," he said gruffly.

Why hasn't he decided yet? "When you seriously consider, you have to seriously consider," he said.

With that, the former mayor politely declared that he was done talking.