Los Angeles Times Should Endorse Now for Mayor of LA; Best Choice Would Be Antonio Villaraigosa
Editorial Page Editor Michael Kinsley often means well. He's just slow-witted.
But now, Kinsley and The Times ought to get out in front of sentiment in Los Angeles and endorse in the city's race for mayor. The first round of the balloting is March 8, there are five major candidates, there's a lousy mayor now in James Hahn, and it's not too early to take a position on who should replace him.
In 1969 in a somewhat similar situation, with the inept Sam Yorty running for reelection and in the full flower of Times Publisher Otis Chandler's ambitions to lead journalistically, The Times endorsed Rep. Alphonzo Bell, the Republican, for mayor. Bell did not fare very well in the primary, and when then-Councilman Tom Bradley ran first in the developing race, forcing Yorty into a runoff, The Times changed its endorsement to Bradley . Yorty prevailed that year, but four years later, with Times support, Bradley won and served 20 years.
The Times endorsements for Bell and Bradley in 1969 were not immediately successful, in part because Chandler went off on a hunting trip during the runoff and left instructions to not write any more editorials until he got back, blunting the impact of Times backing. But still The Times had pointed the way, and eventually the city's voters took that way.
I think The Times made a serious mistake when it failed to endorse for President last year, after lambasting President Bush on every occasion for at least two years. For the paper not to endorse Sen. Kerry made it look hypocritical and got Kinsley off to a bad start, especially since he did endorse Kerry in a column last summer in Time magazine.
Kinsley, in my view, should not drop the ball again. He should endorse, and since I want to be helpful, I even have the candidate for him. I think he should endorse Antonio Villaraigosa as the best candidate at hand.
I've surprised my kids with this stand, because I was an outspoken Bush supporter in last year's election and Villaraigosa is a liberal. But I sent him a $100 campaign contribution in the mail yesterday. I'm often independent and pragmatic and when I've felt they were the best candidates I've endorsed liberals before.
Villaraigosa, the loser to Hahn in the last mayoral election, offers a forward-thinking candidacy this time and has more seasoning than he did the last time. Now, a City Councilman, he did serve in the past as state Assembly Speaker. Just this week, he advocated more subways and light rail for Los Angeles, a clear need, although he acknowledged it would take a long time to develop them.
Just briefly, Hahn has been uninspiring and his administration occasionally corrupt. The former police chief, Bernard Parks, is too rigid a personality. Bob Hertzberg, also a former Assembly Speaker, did not particularly distinguish himself in that position and has adopted a foolishly divisive position on the schools, and Sen. Richard Alarcon is not an especially energetic politician and, in this election, is going nowhere.
I think Kinsley ought to get off his haunches, even though he votes in Washington state and is a half-timer here, and make an endorsement.
Several Times reporters, including Michael Finnigan, Jessica Garrison, Patrick McGreevy and Matea Gold, have been giving the mayor's race good coverage. We would be even better served if The Times were still a homeowned newspaper, but the paper's coverage has been credible. Now, its editorial page should be too.