Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who flirted with the idea of running for president but skipped the 2020 campaign, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.
Garcetti will be one of Biden’s highest-profile supporters in California’s March 3 primary, but the endorsement is unlikely to have any practical impact on the highly competitive race. Dianne Feinstein, the state’s senior U.S. senator, is also supporting Biden.
“We need Joe Biden to bring our nation and world together during these most divided and dangerous times,” Garcetti said. “I know that from Day One, he will heal our nation, repair our relationships abroad and get things done — and will be a true partner in solving the national homelessness crisis.”
Biden is a solid front-runner in national polls of Democratic voters but is in a tighter race for the lead in California, where polls show Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts running nearly even with the former vice president. The 416 delegates at stake in California’s Super Tuesday primary are the biggest prize of the campaign for the party nomination.
Since Garcetti was first elected mayor in 2013, he has devoted much time to building a national political network. He is a member of the Democratic National Committee and vice president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. The Los Angeles Times found he spent nearly one-third of his time outside California in a one-year period ending in September 2017, including trips to states with crucial presidential contests, such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
After almost two years of weighing whether to make a bid for the White House, Garcetti announced at City Hall a year ago that he would not run in 2020, saying, “This is what I am meant to do and this is where I want to be.”
Left unsaid was that the surge in homelessness on his watch would have posed a huge challenge in a presidential race. Tent encampments have sprouted citywide on freeway overpasses, in underpasses and along sidewalks, alleys, beaches and riverbanks.
Garcetti, who was a California co-chair of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, has longstanding ties with Biden, who was campaigning Thursday in Long Beach and planned to attend fundraisers Thursday night in Irvine and Friday in Hancock Park. Garcetti’s endorsement of Biden was first reported by the New York Times.
In 2015, Biden dined with Garcetti at Getty House, the mayor’s official residence, after the two participated in a Los Angeles climate-change summit. In 2014, Biden joined Garcetti in promoting an increase in the city’s minimum wage.
“Democrats are blessed to have such an extraordinary field of candidates,” Garcetti said in a statement Thursday, “but I will never forget what Joe Biden has done for my city and our nation.”
Biden released a statement Thursday afternoon calling Garcetti “one of the best mayors in this country who has done incredibly innovative things to improve the lives” of city residents. The mayor will serve as a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign.