Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) won't run for California's open Senate seat, he announced Tuesday evening.
"I am humbled by the encouragement I've received from so many to serve in the United States Senate," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "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."
His decision makes California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) a heavy favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFormer California senator prods Feinstein to consider retirement Trump decries 'defund the police' after Boxer attacked Former Sen. Barbara Boxer attacked in California MORE (D-Calif.). She is the only major announced candidate on either side of the aisle and has been locking up Democratic endorsements from across the state.
Villaraigosa is the biggest-name Democrat who had still been looking at a race, and his decision to pass means Harris may not face a tough campaign after all in the Democratic-leaning state.
The former mayor's decision to pass on the Senate race comes as something of a surprise, as a number of confidants had been predicting that he would run for Senate.
Villaraigosa's statement also sends strong signals he's looking at a 2018 gubernatorial run — a race many of his allies thought he was more interested in from the start. That would likely pit him against California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who is already fundraising for a potential gubernatorial bid.
This post was updated at 5:15 p.m.