Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa threw his support last week behind City Council candidate Gil Cedillo, a longtime friend of the mayor running for the seat of termed-out First District council member Ed Reyes.
The mayor’s endorsement of Cedillo is a departure from recent election history, when an apparent rift between the two led Cedillo to endorse Villaraigosa opponent James Hahn in the 2005 Los Angeles mayoral election won by Villaraigosa.
In 2009, Villaraigosa in turn backed Judy Chu, Cedillo’s opponent in his failed bid for Congress.
But last Friday, Villaraigosa – calling Cedillo his “brother” – and highlighted their history as high school and law schoolmates who also worked on numerous campaigns and issues together. They also were colleagues in the state legislature, where Cedillo has served as both a senator and assemblyman.
“What reconciliation?” Villaraigosa said in response to a question about the perceived rift.
“I said I’ve known him for 45 years,” Villaraigosa said. “There is no need for a reconciliation. I know him better than anybody here. I know what kind of man he is. I support him without qualification, without equivocation.”
Villaraigosa said he has “admired (Cedillo’s) fierce dedication to social justice and civil rights, the fact that he’s been willing to take on issues in fighting for the undocumented, the uninsured, the un-housed.”
Cedillo said he and the mayor have come together on policy matters, particularly in passing Measure R, which funds public transportation projects. He also drew further parallels between their backgrounds.
“We came from communities that were modest, that were humble and provided us with our fair share of challenges,” he said. “Every step of the way, we’ve met those challenges, and it is those experiences … that have informed our decisions in public service.”
The announcement made on the south lawn of City Hall comes in the final stretch of election campaigning, as fund-raising and spending records are turned in, and as candidates make a push to sway voters in the less than three weeks leading up to March 5.
Based on last month’s fundraising figures, Cedillo was trailing his biggest opponent, Jose Gardea, a veteran chief of staff in Reyes’ office.
Cedillo, however, has spent more on his campaign to this point.
Gardea, who is endorsed by Reyes, told City News that he is not basing his campaign on endorsements, but on ”real accomplishments on my part and my work in the community, working toward a better future.”
Gardea said he was not surprised that a decades-old friendship with the mayor would produce an endorsement for his opponent.