Antonio Villaraigosa delivered the last speech of a long gubernatorial campaign, conceding his loss in a wistful inventory of his history, dreams, and ambitions.
With votes still being counted late Tuesday night, the Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles was a distant third in the gubernatorial primary, from which only the top two advance. It was a difficult night in a long political career, made more complicated by a day of polling problems in L.A. County.
Villaraigosa had earlier said he would fight to resolve a snafu that left 118,000 names off voter rolls, but later he rejoined the election night party and spoke to hundreds of supporters gathered in a cavernous downtown Los Angeles event space not far from the East L.A. neighborhood where he grew up. Villaraigosa spoke of the California promise to welcome immigrants, a state that “gave my family more than I could have ever imagined. California—the only state that has its own dream.”
Surrounded by his extended family, the former L.A. mayor invoked Barack Obama and quoted Martin Luther King in a speech that sounded at times less a concession and more like a soaring stump speech. His call for equality, compassion and optimism was greeted with cheers from his supporters who crowded close to the stage.
Villaraigosa exhorted the crowd to throw their support behind Democratic frontrunner Gavin Newsom. He joked that after a hectic and demanding campaign, he could finally spend time with his family and his wife: Villaraigosa is a newlywed.
And he left the stage with a final piece of advice, “Never miss an opportunity to celebrate love, life and family.”