When Antonio Villaraigosa ran for mayor of Los Angeles in the early 2000s, some were not ready for a Latino to lead the city.
Despite facing racism on the campaign trail, the third-generation Mexican American leaned into his identity, learning Spanish and holding bilingual news conferences. He won partly on the strength of the Latino voters he brought to the polls.
Since then, Latinos, who are nearly half the population and a third of the electorate in L.A., have matured as a political force.
In his campaign for mayor, City Councilman Kevin de León is emphasizing his bona fides as a fluent Spanish speaker and the son of a single mother from Guatemala who worked as a housekeeper.
Latino voters are a huge asset that other candidates are also making a play for, hiring Latino staffers, expanding their bilingual marketing and, in some cases, attempting to connect with voters in Spanish as they gear up for the June 7 primary.
With about 40% of voters undecided, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) holds a small lead, and De León […]