Garcetti 2020? LA mayor's presidential potential

At the moment, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn't have time to think about anything but battling ...

Posted: Dec 10, 2017 2:41 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2017 2:41 PM

At the moment, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn't have time to think about anything but battling fires in Southern California. But before the flames threatened his city, Garcetti was spending a lot of time out of it.

He traveled to Wisconsin in June, where he spoke at the state's Democratic Party convention; New Hampshire in August, where he helped campaign for Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig; and Indiana in November, where he attended the inaugural meeting of a nonprofit for investing in innovation called Accelerator for America.

Garcetti to David Axelrod on "The Axe Files": I hope mayors run for president.

The Los Angeles mayor has hinted at a possible bid.

Trips like this -- coupled with Garcetti himself hinting at a run for president -- have some experts wondering: Could a mayor mount a credible campaign in 2020?

Some believe he has a decent shot.

"In normal times, a mayor running for president would be probably be seen as foolish. But these aren't normal times," Jaime Regalado, a professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Los Angeles, told CNN. "Garcetti's increasingly been getting nationwide attention, also international attention on the climate change fight. There are a lot of things in his favor for possibly heading in that direction."

Others remain skeptical of a politician jumping from City Hall to the White House.

"He [Garcetti] would be a long shot," John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of government and politics at Claremont McKenna College, told CNN. "Outside of Southern California, very few people know who he is."

Garcetti, 46, was coy about the future in an interview posted earlier this week and recorded before the wild fires. He told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN, that he subscribes to the notion that "you better just do good work and stop thinking about your own future, and the next step will take care of itself."

But he added: "Eyes wide open, it's important to prepare for the future."

From mayor to president?

No sitting mayor has ever been elected president, but Garcetti hopes that someone -- even if it's not him -- is.

"I hope, even if I never did, that we have mayors that run for president because they are ready," Garcetti told Axelrod.

He touted fellow mayors -- and 2020 prospects -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as worthy candidates for higher office.

Garcetti, who is of both Jewish and Mexican descent, comes from a political background: He is the son of Gil Garcetti, the district attorney who prosecuted O.J. Simpson in the infamous double murder trial of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.

His "diverse background could provide him with an unusually broad appeal: He is a Jewish Hispanic with an Italian surname," Pitney said.

Regalado added he thinks Garcetti is a candidate that could appeal to Democrats, including young Democrats who are far left ("the Berniecrats") and "old timer establishment" voters.

But making such a big political leap isn't easy. Many ex-mayors -- including former Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty, who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972 -- have tried and failed.

"One challenge is that he [Garcetti] has a full-time job that could demand his immediate return to the city at any time," Pitney said. "For instance, it would look bad if he were campaigning in New Hampshire while the northern part of Los Angeles was facing huge wildfires. Also, opponents could blame him for anything that goes wrong in the city, ranging from the mundane (traffic) to the tragic (police shootings). He would also have to contend with the reputation of Los Angeles as a haven for bohemian social values."

Joel Kotkin, author and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism, echoed that mayors "don't necessarily appeal to suburban, much less rural voters, who together make up the vast majority."

Flirting with a run

Garcetti's Axelrod interview came just several weeks after The New York Times ran a story focusing around Garcetti's 2020 prospects.

"There are 23 states that have a population smaller than Los Angeles," Garcetti told the Times, again hinting at the possibility of running.

But the Times story wasn't the first instance in which Garcetti fueled speculation about a presidential bid.

Since being elected mayor, Garcetti has garnered national attention for advocating for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and the Paris climate accord, following news that President Donald Trump would end DACA -- unless Congress comes up with a plan to save it -- and withdraw the US from the Paris agreement.

In October, Garcetti ruled out running for governor in the race to replace current California Gov. Jerry Brown. That same month, Garcetti hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to support her re-election campaign in 2018.

"There's no obvious place for him to go in terms of higher office," Regalado said of Garcetti's prospects. "And he would like that national stage, there's no question about it."

Earlier this year, Garcetti was reelected as mayor in a landslide. He helped Los Angeles land the bid for the 2028 Olympics. He launched Accelerator for America.

There's Garcetti's robust travel schedule, which has taken him across the US to areas that many aspirational presidential candidates frequent.

"His visibility has risen considerably over the last year," Regalado added.

And that visibility -- per some experts -- is what could help him pave the way to the White House in 2020.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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