L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Says He Won't Run for President

Eric Garcetti - Getty - H 2019
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The Democratic primary is expected to be a crowded field.

Ending more than a year of speculation regarding his White House ambitions, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will not be mounting a presidential bid in 2020.

“You should finish the job you set out to do. I've decided not to throw my hat in the ring to run for president in 2020,” said the 47-year-old Garcetti, speaking at a hastily organized press conference at City Hall on Tuesday evening. “I realized that this is what I am meant to do. There is where I want to be. And this is where we have so much exciting work to finish,” he added.

Garcetti, who was re-elected to a second five-year term as mayor last year in a landslide victory, did not, however, rule out a future run for the White House.

“Garcetti 2040 — I'd like to say that right now,' the mayor joked.

Analyzing the Garcetti presidential tea leaves has been a favorite parlor game for local press and political analysts over the past 18 months. As far back as December 2017, Garcetti had suggested that he was considering a presidential run, telling a Univision reporter: “I am thinking about this.” Since then, all indications have been that he was preparing a campaign to win a spot on the Democratic ticket. In 2018, he hopscotched around early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina meeting with elected officials and party leaders, and he upped his national profile by emerging as one of the more vocal critics of President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies. Garcetti also played an integral role in the midterm elections, helping raise millions of dollars for candidates in a variety of battleground states.

But several forces have been working against a theoretical Garcetti presidential bid from the get-go. The first is that no former L.A. mayor has been able to carve out a national profile after serving at City Hall. In fact, no mayor has run for the presidency since New York City Mayor John Lindsay ran in 1972. Also stealing some of Garcetti’s potential thunder was the entry of Senator and former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who drew a crowd of more than 20,000 people at her candidacy kickoff event in Oakland earlier this week. In addition to being from California, both Garcetti — a half-Jewish and half-Mexican Rhodes scholar and Navy intelligence reservist — and Harris have invited comparisons to former President Barack Obama.

At his press conference, Garcetti said that he was excited for Harris’ campaign and that she’s been a longtime friend, but added that her candidacy had no bearing on his decision not to run. When asked whether he would consider a vice presidential bid, Garcetti said that he “has a better job than that.”

The Democratic primary is expected to be a crowded field. In addition to Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also announced she will be running. Other potential candidates include former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

In November, a “ready for Garcetti” effort to enlist the L.A. mayor in the presidential race got underway. According to a City Hall source, he had been vetting candidates to help run his communications team, putting them through multiple rounds of interviews. The source said that Garcetti had kept his cards extremely close to his vest in recent days but ultimately decided that he “wasn’t ready to be president.”