Before Antonio Villaraigosa announced this week that he would not run for California's open U.S. Senate seat in 2016, some were framing a contest between the ex-Los Angeles mayor and state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, previously San Francisco's district attorney, as another episode in the state's north-south rivalry. But if letters to The Times are any indication of public opinion, Villaraigosa might have had a better chance at endearing himself to Northern California voters.
One of the more curious tendencies of Times letter writers is to react viscerally to any news about Villaraigosa. Simply put, many don't think much of the former L.A. mayor, and many of our letter writers would rather not read articles about him. This was just as true during the final years of Villaraigosa's tenure in City Hall, before Eric Garcetti took over in 2013, as it is now.
Here are letters that have come in over the last few weeks commenting on the Villaraigosa campaign that wasn't. Some criticized The Times for covering the former mayor at all.
Marina del Rey resident Elizabeth Wright questions The Times' impartiality:
Why did The Times devote so much space to Villaraigosa as a possible candidate for Senate? He neither did nor said anything newsworthy.
Apparently, an article was triggered by information that the Harris campaign team sees Villaraigosa as its chief rival if he enters the race. What was that information, and who disseminated it? There were very few facts but plenty of speculation.
The Times' bias for Villaraigosa was showing.
Richard Whorton of Studio City also detects bias:
The "love fest" your newspaper put on for Villaraigosa was embarrassing. In 2013, when this same guy left office, people were remarking that he shouldn't let the door hit him on his way out of City Hall.
Recently, however, we read in The Times articles that seemed to promote his candidacy for Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat. You may think it's news, but it just looked like you were laying the groundwork for endorsing him when it would come time to do that.
Burbank resident Michael E. White says Villaraigosa spared not just Californians:
With one strike of a name from a list of contenders, the nation was spared one not-so-small detriment.
The only way Villaraigosa can "make California a better place," as he said he wanted to do in his statement declaring he would not run, is for him to become less visible.
Bill Bell of Mar Vista speculates that Villaraigosa had practical concerns about a run:
Perhaps the reason our former mayor has opted not to run for Boxer's U.S. Senate seat is simply because he lacks the necessities.
Jon Konjoyan of Toluca Lake wants his newspaper back:
Please cancel my subscription to the Villaraigosa Times and reinstate my subscription to the Los Angeles Times.