Antonio Villaraigosa is banking on the Fresno police chief’s popularity to push his campaign beyond the June 5 primary.
On Tuesday (May 29), Chief Jerry Dyer endorsed the Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles for governor.
Polls show Villaraigosa, a Democrat, running neck and neck with Republican John Cox to finish second. The top-two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the November general election. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, is the front-runner, according to the polls.
Dyer said it’s the first endorsement for governor that he’s made.
“We need a governor who understands the importance of giving certain individuals second chances. But we also need a governor who understands the importance holding people accountable for their actions and insuring victims of crimes get the justice they are so deserving of,” Dyer said. “I believe Antonio Villaraigosa is that governor.”
Along with Dyer, Villaraigosa picked up the endorsements of local law enforcement unions such as the Fresno Sheriff’s Deputy Association and Fresno Police Officers Association.
Valley Is Vital to Villaraigosa’s Quest
By Villaraigosa’s count, this is his 57th visit to the Valley, an important part of his strategy to Sacramento.
“I think this the heartland of our state, the breadbasket of our state. I’ve enjoyed the time here learning. I think you’ll see me again and again and again once I’m governor,” Villaraigosa said.
Dyer’s Political Risk
Dyer acknowledged the ledge he’s stepping on, a conservative chief endorsing a Democrat.
“I also understand as a result of that endorsement, perhaps I lose some political capital I have gained in this community, and perhaps throughout the Valley for the last several years. But the truth is, the future well-being of the state of California is far more important than anyone’s political capital,” Dyer said.
Villaraigosa’s staff says there could be one more Valley visit before next Tuesday’s election.
Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno), former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, and Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria also appeared at the news conference to support Villaraigosa.