Hillary Ally Villaraigosa: Working-Class Voters Not ‘Deplorable’

Antonio Villaraigosa (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

California gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa again blasted “Davos Democrat” Gavin Newsom while saying that working-class voters are not “deplorable.”

Villaraigosa, the longtime Hillary Clinton ally who was a national co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, reportedly told a San Francisco audience on Tuesday evening that Democrats “need to focus, to a much greater degree, on people who work hard.”

“I don’t believe they are deplorable,” Villaraigosa reportedly said. “I think they’re hard-working. They want the economy to work in a way that rewards that hard work, and gives them a life of dignity.”

During the 2016 campaign, Clinton said that generally speaking, “you can put half of [Donald] Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

“Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” she added.

Clinton later expressed regret for those remarks, which helped galvanize working-class voters against her.

Villaraigosa said he “grew up in a home of poverty” and implied that Newsom uses polls and focus groups to try to appeal to working-class voters.

Though Villaraigosa again did not call out Newsom by name, he made it clear he was talking about California’s lieutenant governor and former San Francisco mayor who will likely be his chief rival in next year’s gubernatorial race. In the most recent statewide poll, Villaraigosa has pulled to within five percentage points of Newsom.

Politico asked him, “who are we talking about here” when “you talk about Davos Democrats?” Villaraigosa, “with a big smile,” reportedly answered, “I think we know who we’re talking about.”

“When he was going to Davos, I was going to the U.S. Conference of Mayors,” he reportedly said. “And I was doing that because I understood how important it was for us to focus at home. I do think we spend a lot of time standing up for people who drive a Tesla, and not a Toyota. Not to mention people who ride a bus.”

In 2007, when Villaraigosa was Los Angeles’ mayor and Newsom was San Francisco’s, Newsom decided to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos instead of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

BeyondChron actually criticized Newsom’s hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, for failing “to mention in their January 28th article that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom did not even attend the Conference.”

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors provides invaluable contacts for Mayors to pool their political clout, at a time when state and federal governments have turned their backs on cities,” BeyondChron wrote then. “Newsom instead chose to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — where intellectuals, movie stars and corporate C.E.O.’s rub shoulders.”

Villaraigosa started hammering Newsom as a “Davos Democrat” at the party’s state convention last month.

“There are some who have never been in the trenches, in the fight for social and economic justice,” Villaraigosa said. “These Davos Democrats fly over the homes of Californians left behind — have never been in their living rooms.”

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