What Went Wrong for Villaraigosa: A California Stalwart Ponders His Loss for Governor

A key question going forward is whether Mr. Villaraigosa’s collapse offered a verdict on the power of the Latino vote. But it is difficult to measure because there were no exit polls — which gives researchers valuable information on who turned out and why — and the vote tally is not complete.

“There is no question that there was a lack of turnout and a lack of enthusiasm,” Mr. Suro said. “This guy was a two-term mayor of Los Angeles running to be the first Latino mayor since the 1800s and nobody stood up to salute?”

But Matt A. Barreto, the head of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, said an early review of some vote totals — in heavily Latino districts in Orange County and Los Angeles County — suggested that those voters had turned out to a considerable extent, and voted for Latino candidates on the ballot, such as Xavier Becerra, a Democrat and the attorney general, and Alex Padilla, the secretary of state. He said that Mr. Villaraigosa had trailed behind them.

“I think it’s more a function of him being out of politics longer and Newsom being a good candidate,” Mr. Barreto said. “It was hard to attack Newsom for being bad for the Latino community. That made it difficult for Villaraigosa.”

The former mayor has spent the past few days with his family and aides, thinking, he said, more about what to do next than what went wrong. Retirement, he said, glancing around his opulent home, its walls covered with art, and a sprawling deck outside the third-floor kitchen, is not an option. “I’m going to have to get some work,” he said. “Probably business.”

Mr. Villaraigosa said he has made a point of trying not to read accounts of his loss, or pore over the data of what went wrong. But he noticed when Mayor Eric M. Garcetti, his successor at City Hall, offered criticism of his campaign, suggesting that money had been wasted and that his message had been muddled.

“I heard that he did that,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “It’s just noise. People say stuff off the cuff. If I don’t know what happened, how does anyone else know?”


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