California Gov. Jerry Brown, accompanied by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, signed a bill into law Wednesday authorizing some $8 billion in funding for a controversial high-speed rail project.
How do you solve a problem? By admitting you have one.
So congratulations to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for admitting, in a recent interview, that he wants to be governor of California
Now he needs to get help. Professional help.
Because no one who has watched the last 15 years of California history should want this job.
The state is ungovernable, and constantly becoming more so. Governors are slaves to a broken fiscal system that no one wants to fix. Governor is a job for people who really, really want to be unpopular, and enjoy having pounding headaches that never go away.
The current occupant of the office, Jerry Brown, and his immediate predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, each spent a good amount of time having to reassure people that they were enjoying the job. That's a bad sign -- they said it so many times you wonder if they were trying to convince themselves.
Villaraigosa's interest in the job has long been suspected. He was considered a possible contender in 2010, but bowed out. That seemed wise, given that he was not terribly popular in LA at the time. And because the governorship has become a dead end job.
To be fair, Villaraigosa has said many smart things that suggest that, unlike Brown, he would try as governor to remake the California system so the state is governable. He's taken on Prop 13 and the governing system, and also has been critical of former allies in the state's teachers unions.
Those are good, brave stands -- but they would also make it harder for him to win the job in the first place.
Even if he runs, he's unlikely to win--if history is any guide.
California has never elected a mayor of Los Angeles as its governor, and it's not for a lack of qualified candidates. The rest of the state loves to root against Los Angeles -- note the "Beat LA" chants in ballparks from San Francisco to San Diego.
All of which is good news for Villaraigosa.
He's unlikely to be so unlucky as to get this job.
Fortunately, Villaraigosa also says he's interested in writing and doing some think tank work.
That's a better path. It's what your lead blogger does, and, while it can be taxing at times, it sure beats trying to govern California.
Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).