Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prominent Latino Mayor won't speak in Denver

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The LA Times is reporting that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been passed over for a prime time speaking role at the national convention. The mayor's office is taking the news well, stating that he is a team player and will do whatever he can to help Senator Obama make room for other prominent leaders from states which are more competitive than California, which is solidly Democratic.

But others are saying that cutting out the well-known mayor of Los Angeles is also a snub to the Latino electorate. This is not the case.

The mayor - who was quick to endorse Senator Obama after previously co-chairing Senator Clinton's campaign - finds himself caught in a series of unfortunate circumstances.

This can be considered the first "John Edwards" casualty of the convention. Because last summer it was revealed that Mayor Villaraigosa (which is pronounced Vee-yah-Rye-GO-sah, a combination of his last name - Villar - and his wife's last name - Raigosa) was having an affair. Thus any prominent placement of the mayor during the convention could stir-up that issue again on the cable networks.

The second and more salient issue is that there are more competitive states out there with large Latino populations than my own home state of California. Thus the current line-up of Latino headliners such as Colorado Senator Ken Salazar and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson makes sense. They bring in an electorate that can swing key battleground states in the fall.

Villaraigosa can still be a big help in the election, as his name recognition could be very useful on the campaign trail in Southwestern states such as Nevada - home to a large Latino population and an even larger population of Southern California transplants. After all, Las Vegas is sometimes known as "LA's 89th suburb."