Villaraigosa Adviser: Ex-Hillary Aide Entered Guv Race to ‘Divide and Suppress’ Latino Vote for Newsom

Amanda Renteria (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

One of California gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa’s top political consultants suggested that Hillary Clinton’s former political director, Amanda Renteria, entered the California gubernatorial contest this week to “divide and suppress” the Latino vote for Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who currently has a slim lead over Villaraigosa in the polls.

Appearing on KQED’s “Political Breakdown” podcast on Thursday evening, Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant of Mexican descent who is advising the former Los Angeles mayor, said “something just doesn’t smell right” with Renteria’s sloppy and hasty entrance just a month before the filing deadline.

“If you start to see Gavin Newsom-supporter money, independent money start [pouring in], you’re really going to know something is rotten,” Madrid said. “It’s part of the larger divide-and-suppress strategy of the Latino vote.”

Newsom reportedly said on Friday that the insinuation that Renteria is in cahoots with his campaign to divide and suppress the Latino vote is “insulting.”

Renteria left her post as a top aide to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to enter the gubernatorial contest. Madrid pointed out that Becerra’s political consultant hired Newsom’s political consultant just two weeks before Renteria entered the race. Renteria, like Becerra, is a graduate of Stanford University, of Mexican descent, and politically savvy. Madrid said it is bizarre that someone with Renteria’s political acumen has not spoken to the press and entered the contest “with no endorsement, no infrastructure and no campaign websites.”

California’s Latino Democrats have grumbled that other Latino Democrats sometimes prevent Hispanic Democrats from getting elected statewide, and Renteria’s sudden entry will likely add to those frustrations.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll conducted January 21-30 found Newsom with just a two-point lead over Villarigosa. A recent Latino Community Foundation poll conduced last month found Villaraigosa with a 17-point lead over Newsom among Latino voters, but 36 percent of Hispanics were undecided in that poll.

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