LOS ANGELES (AP) – Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Saturday that he is seriously considering a run for the Senate seat Barbara Boxer will vacate after deciding not to seek re-election to a fifth term.
"Too many Californians are struggling to make ends meet, pay the bills, and send their kids to college," Villaraigosa, 61, said in a statement. "They are looking for progressive leaders in Washington who will fight for them."
Villaraigosa left the mayor's post in 2013 after two terms in office.
Boxer was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and announced Thursday she would not run for office again in 2016. The Democrat said she was making her announcement early enough in the election cycle to give potential successors plenty of time to organize.
Villaraigosa is among several high-profile Democrats who might try to succeed her.
The son a Mexican immigrant gained national attention during his time as mayor, presiding during a time of historically low crime rates and leading initiatives to install new rail lines and move away from polluting, coal-fired power.
His personal story also swayed constituents: Once a high-school dropout, he went on to become speaker of the California Assembly, city councilman and, in 2005, the first Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles since 1872.
In 2012, he served as chairman of the Democratic National Convention.
Critics griped that he promised more than he delivered and attracted just as much attention to his life outside office than in it. Photos of him and hard-partying Charlie Sheen in Mexico surfaced as his name was being mentioned for a possible Obama administration job, an affair with a newscaster ended his marriage, and he was pegged with nearly $42,000 in ethics fines for failing to disclose free tickets to Los Angeles Lakers games and other events.
Since leaving office, Villaraigosa has served as a professor at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy and a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.