Tim Rutten's take is that Mayor Villaraigosa's all-out support for the mysterious solar-and-jobs Measure B makes more sense when viewed in the context of the Democratic primary for governor next year. From his Times column:
The one thing Proposition B -- which was conceived and written by two powerful locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- will unambiguously accomplish is the creation of more union jobs that offer reasonable wages and good benefits.
That's nothing to be dismissed, particularly in the current economy. But at least as important, for Villaraigosa, is the fact that the measure's passage will help remind organized labor that the mayor, a onetime organizer, remains at heart a union man -- even if he has to lay off city workers to balance next year's budget.
More important, support for Proposition B helps further align Villaraigosa's gubernatorial ambitions with two realities of statewide Democratic politics: the growing importance of Latino voters and the concomitant growth of organized labor's influence.
According to people close to the mayor's political operation, his hopes of capturing the nomination in the Democratic gubernatorial primary turn on the fact that Democratic races are decided in two places -- the Bay Area and Southern California, mainly Los Angeles. Their calculation is that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown will split the vote of the Anglo-liberals who predominate in the Bay Area, while Lt. Gov. John Garamendi will shave off non-Latino voters in his Central Valley base.
That opens the way for the 56-year-old Villaraigosa to capture the nomination by overwhelmingly carrying two groups: Latinos and union members. According to Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, Latinos will make up 25% of Democratic primary voters in 2010. In Southern California, where the L.A. mayor already enjoys stellar name recognition, more than a third of the voters will be Latino; in Los Angeles County, that percentage may be as high as 40%. Obviously, the mayor will gain a substantial bump with these voters if he is the only Latino in the race.
No nod in the column, by the way, to Guerra's dual role in local politics and his lobbying of the mayor.
Boyarsky's take: A dispute over light rail cars will be a test of whether Villaraigosa is up to the job of shepherding the federal recession relief that may be coming to L.A.