Hahn, Villaraigosa Speak Briefly at Convention

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn got just three minutes to speak Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, a midday performance watched by a handful of viewers back home on C-SPAN -- if he was lucky.

But one of his potential rivals in next year’s mayoral race, City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, got four minutes Monday afternoon.

And in the early stages of what is already shaping up as a rough-edged campaign, such honors do not pass unnoticed by those with a stake in the race.

“This campaign is not about hobnobbing in Boston,” said state Sen. Richard Alarcon of Sylmar, a Los Angeles mayoral candidate stuck in Sacramento this week to vote on a state budget. “This campaign is about the people of Los Angeles.”


Another candidate, Councilman Bernard C. Parks, made it to Boston for the convention but was relegated to the bleachers, where he, well, hobnobbed with fellow California delegates as Hahn prepared for his moment in the spotlight.

“I’m just pleased to be here as a delegate,” Parks said.

Mayoral contender and former state Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg spent a few days in Boston this week. With no invitation to speak to delegates -- as he did at his party’s 2000 convention in Los Angeles -- he returned home, where he was tending to business Wednesday at his campaign headquarters.

“No grass growing under my feet,” Hertzberg said.

Villaraigosa scored his speaking spot thanks largely to his ties to Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democrats’ presidential candidate. An early backer of the nominee, Villaraigosa is co-chairman of the party’s platform committee.

Hahn used his three-minute stint to cast himself as Kerry’s partner in the fight against crime. He praised the Massachusetts senator for working with former President Clinton “to put thousands of new police officers on our streets.”

“Crime went down, and our economy improved,” Hahn told several thousand chattering delegates, few of whom paid attention to the parade of afternoon speakers who preceded the evening’s star, Kerry running mate John Edwards, the North Carolina senator. “Our country’s current leadership has shifted away from that commitment, and we need it now more than ever.”

The mayor appeared to make little impression on delegates from his home state.

“We were talking,” said Mabel Teng, who chatted with fellow San Francisco delegate Larry Mazzola all the way through Hahn’s speech. “I didn’t hear it.”

Delegate Steve Wardinski of Huntington Beach was more attentive but reluctant to offer an assessment. “I’m going to be polite,” he said. “He says compelling things without saying them in a completely compelling manner.”