LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is endorsing Joe Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, giving the former vice president another high-profile supporter as he tries to demonstrate a wide base of support across the party.
Garcetti’s decision comes Iess than a month before voting begins with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and less than two months before the California primary. The Biden campaign confirmed Garcetti’s decision, which was first reported by The New York Times.
The mayor could be an important surrogate for Biden in California. That state has more than 400 delegates at stake on March 3. That’s about 20% of the 2,000 or so that will be necessary to win the nomination. Garcetti also has previously traveled the country in his own right, proving a popular speaker and fundraiser for state and local Democratic organizations.
With his decision to back Biden, Garcetti spurns two former mayors in the field, Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Garcetti has called Buttigieg one of his close friends. Buttigieg has raised considerable sums from California donors, including some in Garcetti’s political network.
The timing is a blow for Buttigieg, who heads to Los Angeles on Friday. Instead of enjoying the city’s ample media spotlight on his own terms, he’ll arrive as a popular mayor opts to back the 77-year-old former vice president whom Buttigieg wants to displace as the choice for more moderate, establishment Democrats.
Garcetti’s endorsement of Biden, who has spent four decades in national politics, demonstrates his style as an able establishment player. It is, however, somewhat at odds with the arguments he made in late 2017 when he was openly flirting with his own national campaign. In interviews and speeches, he often framed Washington as hopelessly partisan and mired in gridlock and instead pointed to the nation’s cities and their mayors as models for solving problems and helping voters.
Garcetti and Biden’s relationship goes back years. Garcetti was an early supporter of the presidential bid of Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president.
In 2014, Biden praised a Garcetti proposal for boosting the city’s minimum wage and attended a roundtable with him in the city. At a 2018 event sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, Biden called Garcetti “a great guy who has real character” and “understands what the future looks like.”
They’ve also eaten together, munching tacos near downtown Los Angeles last year.
Garcetti’s political website features a photo of him shaking hands with Biden above the caption “Thank you, Joe Biden,” along with a letter thanking him for his service as vice president.
Barrow reported from Atlanta.
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