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Antonio Villaraigosa Won't Seek Senate in California

Boxer is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will not run for California's open Senate seat, he announced in a Tuesday Facebook post. Villaraigosa's decision surprised California and Washington, D.C. operatives, who until recently said he was leaning toward running to succeed retiring  Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.  

"I am humbled by the encouragement I’ve received from so many to serve in the United States Senate. But as I think about how best to serve the people of this great state, I know that my heart and my family are here in California, not Washington, D.C.," Villaraigosa wrote in the post. "I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate."  

Though Villaraigosa is relatively well-known in southern California, a handful of baseline polls showed him trailing California Attorney General Kamala Harris , a Democrat who announced her Senate bid days after Boxer's retirement.  

While Villaraigosa mulled the race, Harris quickly secured endorsements from well-known elected officials including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey — popular figures among Democrats.  

What's more, Villaraigosa's exit could leave some Democrats searching for a Hispanic candidate in a state with a burgeoning population.

"I think this increases the likelihood that another Latino Democrat gets into the race," said Eric Bauman, vice chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Reps. Xavier Becerra and Loretta Sanchez continue to mull bids for Senate. As House members, both start with small geographical bases in the Golden State.  

This race is rated Safe Democrat  by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.  

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