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Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Steps Into The 2018 Governor's Race

Antonio Villaraigosa pictured speaking. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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A familiar face has jumped into the 2018 race for the California governorship. Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has formally announced on Thursday that he's launched his campaign to succeed Jerry Brown to become the next governor of the Golden State.

A release from his campaign's office said that "his campaign would focus on uniting California around solutions to rebuild the middle class by investing in our schools and repairing our state's infrastructure."

It added that, "Villaraigosa noted his entry into the race for governor just two days after Donald Trump was elected president created a clear contrast between a California vision of shared prosperity and the national political climate."

The roster of official candidates for the 2018 race, while still incomplete, is formidable. Perhaps the most prominent name on the list (so far) is Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who recently stumped for Prop. 63 (stricter gun control) and Prop. 64 (legalization of recreational marijuana). Both measures won.

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Also in the race are State Treasurer John Chiang, who's said to reporters that he'll focus on improving the state's infrastructure and ensuring retirement security, and Delaine Eastin, who'd served eight years as California's top education official—she'd stated that, of course, her aim will be to bolster the state's educational system.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, an environmentalist and former hedge-fund manager, has long been expected to jump into the race, too. Though, according to KQED's Scott Shafer, Steyer is reconsidering his plans after Trump won the presidency on Tuesday.

Steyer has been a very vocal critic of Trump, calling him "a lousy businessman" and funding a number of anti-Trump ads. At one point he was rumored to be Clinton's prospective pick as energy secretary (though, of course, that won't be happening).

Villaraigosa has his work cut out for him. For one thing, he'll have to find a specific message to drive home. Whereas Newsom will be seen as the progressive pick, and Chiang as the voice of fiscal responsibility, and Eastin as the champion for education, it remains unclear what, exactly, Villaraigosa's platform will be. It doesn't help that his legacy as L.A.'s mayor has been received with mixed feelings. While crime rates had fallen under his term, and the city had taken measures to adopt clean energy, he'd fallen short of some of the promises he'd made at the beginning of his two-term tenure, according to the L.A. Times. One of the main sticking points was his claim that he'd fix the city's budget deficits. He'd end up approving a raise for city workers—it amounted to a 25% hike after five-years—that some considered to be irresponsible. Then there was the extramarital affair he'd had with a reporter who was covering his office.

In response to Villaraigosa's announcement of his campaign, Newsom released a statement that called him "a serious opponent, no doubt." Newsom added, "I believe in the team we've been building together over the past year and a half. So here's where we have to look next: We need to keep growing bigger and faster to ensure we get to see our vision through and make real progress for every person living in California."

For the time being, it seems that Villaraigosa is running on the message of solidarity. "I’m running because I think the answer to the divisiveness we see in the country right now is unity, and the answer to fear is hope," Villaraigosa told the Times on Thursday. It's vague, for certain, but it can't be argued that we're living in a very divided country right now.

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