LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The race to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate could come down to a former Los Angeles Mayor and California’s first female Attorney General.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports while many Democrats are rushing to rally around Kamala Harris in her campaign, some Hispanics are holding off to see if Antonio Villaraigosa will enter the fray.

Harris, 50, announced her bid for Boxer’s seat earlier this month, just one day after a potential rival, California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said he would not run for the open seat created by Boxer’s retirement next year.

A former two-term San Francisco district attorney and a friend of President Barack Obama’s, Harris attracted national attention when she helped negotiate a settlement with major mortgage lenders and secured extra funding for California. She has been widely viewed as an eventual candidate for governor or U.S. senator.

But while at this point Villaraigosa is still deciding on whether to mount his own campaign for Boxer’s Marin County seat, Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said at this point, it’s not a given that Latino voters would back Harris.

“What you’re hearing in increasing numbers from the Latino community is, ‘We’re not against Kamala Harris, but let’s not rush her into office before we see if there’s a representative of our community worthy of consideration too’,” said Schnur.

Last week, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown urged Villaraigosa – who served as L.A.’s 41st mayor from 2005 through 2013 – should sit out the race and support Harris.

But according to Schnur, the political timing for a Latino candidate from California for the nation’s upper legislative body couldn’t be better.

“There are a lot of leaders in that community and elsewhere who believe it’s long past time for the state to have its first Hispanic United States Senator,” he said.

The 60-year-old left office last June following mayoral two terms. Since leaving office, he has joined the faculty of USC’s Price School of Public Policy and worked as a senior advisor at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm.

If Villaraigosa ultimately decides to run, he could face competition from three local U.S. lawmakers, including Reps. Xavier Bacerra (D-L.A.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who are both Latino.

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