LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Will Not Run For President In 2020

Mayor Eric Garcetti stands for a portrait while visiting KPCC in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, July 20, 2018. (Signe Larsen/LAist/KPCC) (KPCC)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had been flirting with a presidential run for well over a year.

He'd been expanding his national profile with trips to key primary states. He created a PAC in late 2017.

"Stay tuned," he told reporters as recently as last week, when he spoke at the US Mayor's conference in Washington, D.C.

Today, he gave his answer.

"I have decided not to throw my hat into the ring to run for president in 2020," Garcetti told reporters at a news conference called late in the day Tuesday.

His decision came following a big week for the second-term mayor. Garcetti made headlines after working through the night to help negotiate an end to the L.A. teachers strike.

Then he spoke to a national crowd in Washington where he was critical of the Trump administration, steering clear of mentioning the president by name.

His "stay tuned" quip there fueled speculation about whether he would join fellow Californian U.S. Senator Kamala Harris in what is shaping up to be a very crowded 2020 field for Democrats.

In announcing he wanted to remain in L.A, saying he had "so much important work to finish," Garcetti emphasized that his desire to finish a job he had started.

"This is what I'm meant to do," he said. Although during questioning, he also noted that he's not ruling out a future run for president. "Who knows?" he said.

Notably, however, Garcetti did not commit to finishing the final four years of his term. His tenure in office is extended because of a switch in the election cycle. That answer followed his prepared remarks on being "old-fashioned" for deciding not to leave office now.

Garcetti said Sen. Kamala Harris's decision to run had "zero percent" to do with his decision not to run. He said he was proud of Harris, but also said he had many friends vying for the presidency. He did not say who he plans to endorse in the primaries.

Garcetti said of the current climate in Washington, "We look to a government that would be kind and caring, but today we see one that is... cruel."

"It is such an honor to work at the local level, where America works every day," he said "We all need to make America work again, and you can count on me in that fight now and always."

In the past, Garcetti has pointed to success on issues such as raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles and helping reduce community college costs. He's also argued that as a mayor, he is adept at fixing problems and getting things done.

But Garcetti also faced a long list of potential vulnerabilities on the national stage.

He's been criticized for failing to do more to reduce the startlingly high numbers of homeless people in L.A.

Garcetti's decision not to run also comes at a time when the FBI is investigating City Hall. While Garcetti is not suspected of being a target of the FBI probe —- a federal search warrant that surfaced increased speculation that investigators are looking into whether developers have improperly influenced elected officials.

Despite being mayor of the nation's second biggest city, basic name recognition on the national stage posed another challenge for Garcetti.

Until taking office as mayor in 2013. Garcetti had served since 2001 as a councilmember for the city's 13th District, which includes Hollywood, Echo Park and Silver Lake.

Los Angeles is still expected to be of interest in the upcoming national campaign. Why? Follow the money. L.A. is traditionally the scene of an intense battle for fundraising dollars. Top presidential campaigns typically raise between about $50 and $100 million dollars ahead of primary elections.

Democrats have found California's entertainment and tech industry to be generous donors in the past. The Democratic National Committee has already announced a national debate schedule that will start this summer, with the first Democratic debates set to take place in June and July.

California will hold its presidential primary Mar. 3, 2020.

Jessica Ogilvie contributed to this report

UPDATES:

6 p.m. This article was updated with additional quotes from and background about Garcetti.

This article was originally published at 5:12 p.m.