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Chapter 8 Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles, and the Politics of Race

21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests

ISBN: 978-1-78190-184-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-185-4

Publication date: 4 April 2013


Purpose – This chapter examines the campaign, election and governance of Antonio Villaraigosa as Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor in over 130 years. The intersection of electoral coalitions, governing regimes, political incorporation, and deracialized/racialized campaign methods has wide-ranging implications for 21st century urban and racial politics. This study seeks to better understand the high expectations placed upon minority mayors as they develop policies and programs that benefit minorities and others as well.Method – This chapter employs the case study method. A form of qualitative research grounded in theory, scientific in nature, and investigative in approach. The examination of official city documents, archives of local newspapers, exit poll data, and select interviews join to make a rigorous ethnography. The data were complemented by the use of racial politics as a lens through which to interpret results.Findings – This chapter provides empirical insights about the realities of racial politics, the impact of extreme demographic shifts, and the prospects for coalition formation. Governance and resource allocation among minorities by minorities may be the challenge of the 21st century. Deracialized/racialized campaigns and elections make governing a difficult proposition. Even when broad progressive movements are underway (shared ideology) those arrangements seem much more fragile when long-term alliances cannot be forged.Research implications – This chapter applies the case study method. This approach uses the researcher as the primary tool of data collection and employs rigorous methods to avoid bias and ensure accuracy of data. However, because of the chosen approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Hence, we recommend further testing of the research propositions.Practical implications – This chapter posits implications for long-term coalition building and alliance formation among minority voters; the realities of race and representation; and a re-examination of governance style (“racialized” vs. “deracialized”) in municipal government.Originality/value – This chapter intersects urban and racial politics and purports to examine 21st century minority voting behavior and the impact of such behavior upon the policy process (policy responsiveness). Hence, can political incorporation be better achieved with the interests of minorities’ merged (universal interests)?


Ricks, B.E. (2013), "Chapter 8 Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles, and the Politics of Race", Perry, R.K. (Ed.) 21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 163-180.



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