L.A. Mayor Endorses Villaraigosa
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mayor Richard Riordan endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday to succeed him in the city’s top job, giving a boost to Villaraigosa’s bid to become Los Angeles’ first Hispanic mayor since 1872.
The mayor’s announcement came after weeks of intense speculation and fierce lobbying by both campaigns. Even Riordan’s staff members were uncertain whether he would go with Villaraigosa or his opponent, City Attorney James Hahn.
The endorsement by the popular Republican businessman comes just weeks before the June 5 runoff election.
Both Hahn and Villaraigosa are liberal Democrats, and Riordan’s backing could help with moderate and conservative residents, a critical voting bloc.
Many of those voters backed Riordan’s choice in last month’s nonpartisan primary _ fellow GOP businessman Steve Soboroff, who came in third and did not make the runoff.
Villaraigosa, the former speaker of the state Assembly, has already been endorsed by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the state Democratic Party.
Riordan is prevented from running again by term limits.