Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that he will not run for president, knocking down months of speculation he’d be the latest Democrat to join the 2020 race.
“I have decided not to throw my hat into the ring to run for president in 2020,” he said at a news conference outside Los Angeles City Hall. “This was not an easy decision, given the extraordinary times that we live in.” However, he added, “I realized that this is what I’m meant to do.”
Garcetti has served as the 42nd mayor of Los Angeles since 2013, when he replaced Antonio Villaraigosa. The politician ― whose father, Gil, served as the city’s district attorney during the O.J. Simpson murder trial ― has described himself as “just your average Mexican-American-Jewish-Italian.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a massive Los Angeles Unified School District teachers strike. About 30,000 L.A. teachers protested after 20 months of failed negotiations for higher pay, greater school funding and more support staff. It ended on Jan. 22 after six days with concessions on key issues including smaller class sizes and more nurses and counselors. Garcetti called the agreement, which he helped broker, “historic.”
Since the 2016 elections, Garcetti has been vocal about his opposition to the policies of President Donald Trump’s administration. He was among the U.S. mayors who boycotted a White House meeting in January 2018 amid the Justice Department’s threats directed at “sanctuary cities.”
Last year, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit against the state of California over its laws meant to protect undocumented immigrants.
He was also among the handful of U.S. mayors and governors to stick with the Paris agreement to combat global climate change after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord.
The L.A. mayor first raised speculation over a potential presidential bid when he toured a handful of primary swing states. He visited South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa.
His out-of-state travels raised eyebrows, with some constituents calling on the mayor to focus on issues related to the city rather than campaign across the country. Some Angelenos held a “Quit campaigning and fix LA” protest outside City Hall in October.
However, the issue of homelessness has proved to be one of Garcetti’s biggest challenges as mayor. While Garcetti was speaking at the University of Southern California in December, a handful of demonstrators began “shouting at him and criticizing his approach to the city’s homelessness crisis,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Protesters reportedly changed the lyrics of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” to: “You better watch out, you better not cry, Eric Garcetti is telling us lies, human rights violations happening now.”
Though Garcetti isn’t entering the field, the pool of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates continues to grow.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) was the first major Democratic figure to consider the race by creating an exploratory committee in late December. Others, including former Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) have followed suit.
Several other high-profile Democrats are also being touted as potential presidential candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.). Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who announced he will be doing a listening tour in early 2020 primary states, is also being floated as a contender.