(Reuters) - Former Los Angeles Mayor and former California State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday publicly launched his campaign to become the next governor of the country's most populous state.
With a new campaign website, the Democrat said his main focuses if elected would be investing in schools, repairing infrastructure around the state and shoring up an ailing middle class.
He said his campaign would stand in direct contrast to that of President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican who campaigned heavily on building a wall between the United States and Mexico and deporting undocumented immigrants. Trump won the presidency in a surprise upset against Democrat Hillary Clinton earlier this week.
"We are a state that builds bridges, not walls. We are inclusive. We celebrate our diversity. And we welcome newcomers," Villaraigosa said in a statement on his campaign website. "We know the answer to fear is hope. The answer to division is unity."
Villaraigosa, who was Los Angeles mayor from 2005 to 2013 and served as speaker of the California Assembly from 1998 to 2000, is perhaps the state's highest-profile Latino leader.
Villaraigosa in June said he had formed a political action committee and started raising money to help fight Trump's presidential campaign in key states with large Latino immigrant populations.
California's Democratic Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in early 2015 that he would also run for the state's top political position. The two are currently the leading entrants in the race to fill the seat of the popular Governor Jerry Brown, who will be 81 when his term ends.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)