SACRAMENTO — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent Monday trolling the Capitol for political support, dropping in on old Democratic friends and allies to wangle more money for transportation projects and to build momentum for his plans to take over Los Angeles public schools.
Villaraigosa's most surprising ally was not on the calendar, but his presence was palpable.
The Democratic mayor has found plenty of common ground in recent months with California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two have struck an improbable relationship that could yield a windfall for Los Angeles and boost the fortunes of two of California's most politically dynamic figures.
"We genuinely get along," Villaraigosa said of Schwarzenegger during a break from a packed schedule of meetings with legislators. "He's been very supportive of my administration."
Schwarzenegger is equally effusive. At a Burbank whistle-stop last week to promote a $37-billion public works bond, the governor introduced Villaraigosa as "our great mayor."
Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa are eager to see the public works bond pass in November. Each has pledged to campaign for it together in a show of bipartisanship that could help propel the governor to a second term and give the mayor a tangible victory for his city, one that also looks good on his political resume.
The two agree on another important front, as well: Schwarzenegger enthusiastically supports Villaraigosa's campaign to win control of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and was one of the first public officials to endorse it.
Perhaps most intriguing of all, each would stand to benefit from Schwarzenegger winning reelection in November. The governor, of course, would gain four more years in office. His departure in 2010 because of term limits would open the door to Villaraigosa as a potential front-runner for the job -- a prospect that could vanish if one of Schwarzenegger's current Democratic opponents, state Treasurer Phil Angelides or Controller Steve Westly, wins in November.
And so for now Villaraigosa and Schwarzenegger are cooperating, at least publicly, in a gambit to advance their mutual interests, analysts say.
"Both gentleman are trying to move away from raw partisan politics," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political strategist who edits the California Target Book, a nonpartisan election guide. "It's good politically and it's good public policy. When those tend to converge, things get done."
Villaraigosa and Schwarzenegger insist that their newfound amity is grounded not in politics but in a shared desire to do right by their constituents.
When it comes to the bond proposal, both say they have no problem joining ranks to advance an ambitious endeavor to fix California's crumbling schools, highways, roads and levees.
(They also say it is coincidence that the governor recently appointed the mayor's sister, Mary Lou Villar, to a Superior Court judgeship. Villaraigosa and a Schwarzenegger spokesman both called her highly qualified.)
"The people of this city and this state really don't care if there is an R or a D in front of your name when it's something that impacts them and their lives," Villaraigosa said. "They expect us to work together. That's why we got elected."
Schwarzenegger added: "Every single time when we come together, miracles happen ... for the state of California. I'm looking forward to campaigning with the mayor, with our [state] leaders, with anybody in order to get this done."
Schwarzenegger wasted little time making good on that pledge last week.
Shortly after legislators put the final touches on the $37-billion bond proposal, the governor and Democratic and Republican leaders barnstormed the state in a private jet to tout the bipartisan nature of the initiative.
The entourage included Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, a Democrat from Oakland, Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles and Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine.
One of their stops was Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, where the governor took center stage for a news conference. To his left stood Nunez. To his right Villaraigosa, who joined the group for the appearance.
The tone was light as Schwarzenegger and others poked fun at themselves and laughed energetically at one another's jokes. "Thank you so very much for your leadership," Villaraigosa told the governor as the two posed for pictures.
But the political undercurrents were unmistakable.
Appearing alongside Nunez and Villaraigosa offered Schwarzenegger an opportunity to broaden his appeal among Democrats, independents, undecided voters and, particularly, Latinos, many of whom have soured on him since he took office 2 1/2 years ago, analysts say.