Villaraigosa endorsed, then heckled, by organized labor at party convention

Gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa cheered and jeered as he walks the convention lobby with his wife.

Antonio Villaraigosa can’t quite catch a break this weekend.

Late this morning, as the rest of the California Democratic Party rallied inside the San Diego Convention Center for their annual state convention, the former mayor of Los Angeles staged a rally of his own outside, announcing that he had earned the backing of the United Farmworkers of America.

It’s a big get for the Villaraigosa. Aside from representing some 10,000 members, the union carries the moral authority of its founders, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta.

But the celebration was interrupted when another labor group, a contingent of nurse union members, descended upon the rally and began to chant over the proceedings. The California Nurses Association have been backing Newsom since 2015.

As the rally was ending, a third group of protesters joined the fray, shouting their support for rent control. (Villaraigosa supports rent control). The gubernatorial candidate then walked the convention lobby with his wife, Patricia Villaraigosa, chased by a parade of sign-toting activists shouting competing slogans over one another—“¡Sí, se puede!”, “the rent is too damn high!”, and “Ga-vin! Ga-vin!”

This wasn’t Villaraigosa’s first round of rough treatment in San Diego—he was booed at the party labor caucus and received a chilly reception at the environment group meeting.

Though Villaraigosa got a start as a labor organizer (a fact he pointed out repeatedly at today’s announcement), his relationship with much of organized labor in California has since soured. Since leaving the L.A. mayor’s office, he has called for the reform of teacher tenure laws. He is also skeptical of a plan to introduce a state-run single-payer health insurance program in California, which is backed by many labor groups and his rival, Newsom.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Villaraigosa’s wife by her maiden name.

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