Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa steps into the national spotlight again this week as chairman of the Democratic National Convention, and it couldn't come at a better time for him.
The 59-year-old mayor's second and final term ends next year and he has frequently found himself fending off speculation about his political ambitions - talk that is sure to grow as he makes the round of national media interviews and delivers an address to the convention floor.
As convention chairman he is not only serving as master of ceremonies when the Dems open their event Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., but he also offered responses to statements made by Republicans at their convention in Tampa.
With that role has come significant attention from the national media - Fox News is making him its "political power player of the week," and he has been doing a round-robin series of interviews on everything from C-SPAN and the major news shows to national and local Spanish media.
While the pundits have floated different scenarios for his future - including one Yahoo! writer who offered, to some scorn, the idea that he would run for president in 2016 - Villaraigosa is not letting the attention get to him.
"I've been pretty consistent with everyone on this," Villaraigosa said in a telephone interview from Charlotte. "My focus has beenand will be on being mayor of Los Angeles right up until June 30. If something happens in the city (during the convention) and I'm needed, I'll leave here."
He has insisted he has no ambition at this point for another elected office or for a cabinet post in a second Obama administration. After eight years as mayor and six years in the Assembly, he said he is looking forward to breaking away from the stress of public office.
"I really need time to reflect," Villaraigosa said. "I want to explore the idea of a radical center, that is not tied to ideology of either party. I think the system we have is broken, on the right and the left. Obviously, as a Democrat, I think it's more broken on the right, but we have our own problems in the Democratic Party."
His hope for his role at the convention is, first, to make sure it goes off without a hitch. After that, he hopes to stress the message of the needs of cities. Read more at the L.A. Daily News