LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — After more than a year of speculation and travels to political hotspots across the country, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday he has decided against a bid for the presidency in 2020.
“Reflecting on those travels and recognizing the incredible opportunity I have every single day as mayor of this great town, I realize this is what I am meant to do,” Garcetti said at a City Hall news conference. “This is where I want to be and this is a place where we have so much exciting work to finish. I’ve also realized in my thinking that I’m kind of old-fashioned. It may be out of vogue today, but I kind of believe that whenever possible, you should finish the job that you set out to do.”
His family, who lives in L.A., also factored into his decision to not run, he said.
“This was not an easy decision given the extraordinary times we live in,” he said. “As an American, like so many of us, we look to Washington for our better angels. We look to a government that would be kind and caring, but today we see one that is corrupt and cruel. Worst of all, they can’t seem to get anything done.
“… You can’t make anything great if it doesn’t even work, and we all need to make America work again,” he said in another jab at President Donald Trump. “And you can count on me in that fight always. I’m so proud to be mayor of this city, the City of Angels, 4 million souls who have entrusted in me the leadership of this city of tomorrow. It embodies an America where we all belong.”
Garcetti was reelected to a second term in 2017 in a landslide and has been openly exploring a potential presidential run ever since through a number of political trips, including visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But with a likely Democratic field that political experts estimate will reach more than 20 contenders, Garcetti chose to stay at City Hall for the time being.
He said he was encouraged by Democrats who have already thrown their hats into the ring, which includes Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.
“Each of them share my belief in a more United States of America,” he said. “And they can count on me to be with them every step of that fight to take our country back.”
Until as recently as last week, Garcetti acknowledged to reporters he was still thinking of running.
“I think we have a TV reality star as president. We had our first African-American president,” Garcetti told CBS News on Thursday when asked about the potential of being the first mayor to jump right into the White House. “The time for obviously trying new things – in both positive and sometimes negative ways – is upon us. I don’t think it’s about your resume anymore.”
“The time for obviously trying new things – in both positive and sometimes negative ways – is upon us. I don’t think it’s about your resume anymore.”
During the time he has explored a run, Garcetti has not gained much traction outside of some media profiles. A CNN poll in October had him pulling 2 percent of support out of a list of 16 potential candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who led the poll with 33 percent support.
Garcetti’s announcement comes on the heels of several other high-profile candidates who announced officially they were running, including Harris, who drew an estimated 20,000 people to a rally in Oakland on Sunday. But Garcetti denied that Harris’ candidacy scared him off from running.
“I wouldn’t have run for mayor if it was about being an underdog, or who else is in the race. You’ve really got to listen to your own heart,” he said.
When asked if he was pledging to serve out his full second term through 2022, Garcetti said, “No, no. I’m pledging to be mayor. I mean, you never know, but I do think that in four years, a lot can happen.”
City Councilman Gil Cedillo told City News Service he has been encouraging Garcetti to seek the presidency.
“Obviously, I’m a big supporter of the mayor, and I’m positive he’d be a great president,” Cedillo said. “But we’re very fortunate to have him here.”
Garcetti, 47, comes from a politically connected family, as his father, Gil Garcetti, is a former Los Angeles County district attorney perhaps most famous for overseeing the failed prosecution of O.J. Simpson’s double-murder case in the mid-1990s.
Garcetti grew up in the San Fernando Valley as the son of a Jewish mother and a father of Mexican and Italian descent. He speaks often of his Mexican roots and is fluent in Spanish, frequently dedicating a portion of his news conferences to speaking Spanish.
Garcetti earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia University before becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He taught international affairs at both the University of Southern California and Occidental College before winning a seat on the City Council in 2001, representing the 13th District, which includes parts of Hollywood.
Garcetti was elected by the 15-member City Council to serve as its president four times, and he earned a reputation as a calm, level-headed politician who works to find common ground and avoid political infighting.
In 2013, Garcetti beat out fellow Democrat Wendy Greuel to become the city’s first mayor of Jewish descent.
As mayor, Garcetti has overseen a rising budget due to a strong local and national economy while putting an emphasis on environmental initiatives, programs to help the homeless, and traffic safety. In 2015, he backed a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
Garcetti rarely if ever openly criticizes the City Council, preferring to project himself as a consensus builder, and typically will chose to avoid any direct challenges to other city leaders, either in his speeches or when asked direct questions by reporters.
Politico, in a 2017 story highlighting his possible run for the presidency, wrote that Garcetti “has a wry air, smiles in a way that he tries to make out as self-deprecating but deploys for its charm. He doesn’t so much light up the room as coolly calm it down.”
Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, have one adopted daughter, Maya, and have also been foster parents.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)