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Political odd couple: GOP consultant advises Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid for governor

By in Press Enterprise on November 24, 2017

By CALmatters

By Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

One wants to end the death penalty. The other thinks capital punishment is just. One campaigned for tax increases that the other opposed. One tried to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. The other helped elect President George W. Bush.

What both men believe, however, is that Latinos—California’s largest ethnic group—suffer disproportionate levels of poverty in part because they barely turn out to vote.

That common ground helps form the basis of an unlikely political alliance that could shape the 2018 race to determine the next governor of California. Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa—a former mayor of Los Angeles and speaker of the Assembly—has hired a Republican political consultant to work on his campaign to become California governor.

“I brought him on because I want a broad cross section of eyes and ears to help me navigate through what admittedly is tough terrain ahead,” Villaraigosa said in an interview. “I make the decisions ultimately. But I’m smart enough to know I don’t know everything.”

The GOP consultant, Mike Madrid, is a widely recognized expert in Latino voting patterns who has long urged Republicans to reach out more to Latino voters. He was the California Republican Party’s political director in the 1990s and, more recently, has been paid by the state party to research local government elections. But Madrid has been so turned off by Donald Trump that he says he did not vote for a president last year and has begun criticizing his party for adopting a nationalistic tone.

Though working across party lines is not unusual in governing, it is less common in the more combative realm of electoral politics. Villaraigosa had a Republican chief of staff when he was mayor of Los Angeles. Madrid has done research for the Legislature’s Latino Caucus, which is only open to Democrats. But this race […]    

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