When Antonio Villaraigosa won the primary that matched him against James Hahn in Los Angeles' mayoral race, the assumption was that Villaraigosa had the Latino vote in his back pocket. Apparently, that assumption is the furthest thing from the truth. A recent Los Angeles Times poll revealed that Villaraigosa has lost support amongst Latino voters.
The headline of this story reads "experts surprised." It isn't really that surprising, though, that Villaraigosa is losing support among Hispanic voters. Since the primary, Villaraigosa has spent much of his time separating himself from his Hispanic base in an effort to appear moderate and more to the liking of white voters.
In order to alleviate the fears of white voters in the city of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa has recreated himself as a man able to represent their concerns. This entails reinventing himself and denying/downplaying the person who he was. In the meantime, Hispanic voters have been ignored and their interests and concerns have been put on the backburner. They are left only with the hope that if Villaraigosa is elected he will remember to take care of them.
This scenario has been played out before and the Hispanic community has grown weary of the game.
The Hispanic community is growing numerically and politically, and it is looking for leadership. It is looking for a leader who will not take them for granted and one who will not assume that they will vote for them just because they have brown skin and Hispanic surnames. The Hispanic community wants leadership that will carry their issues and concerns to the forefront, include them in the dialogue and make them players in the struggle for power.
It appears that the Hispanic community in L.A. is sending a clear message. The question is, is it to late for Mr. Villaraigosa?