NEW YORK – Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has won the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a rising star in national Democratic politics and one of the nation's top Hispanic elected officials.
Villaraigosa was set to announce his endorsement Wednesday, joining Clinton at a campaign rally at the University of California-Los Angeles, two Democrats familiar with the planned endorsement told The Associated Press.
They spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.
Clinton campaign officials have actively sought Villaraigosa's backing, even enlisting former President Clinton recently to woo Villaraigosa over dinner at a tony New York steak house.
A popular figure in the nation's second-largest city, analysts expect Villaraigosa to have a promising future in national politics or in statewide office in California. He is widely popular among Hispanic voters, who make up an increasingly large percentage of Democratic voters in California and many other states. In 2004, 21 percent of California voters were Hispanic, according to exit polls there.
Villaraigosa's endorsement of Clinton is not unexpected; he lavished praise on the New York senator at a campaign event in Los Angeles in March, calling her campaign "fighting for a brighter and cleaner future for all our children." And last month, his top political consultant, Ace Smith, joined the Clinton campaign as its California director.