For those who remember the Republican “fish hook” strategy for winning statewide races three and four decades ago you can see a similarity to Antonio Villaraigoisa’s potential roadmap to capture the governorship: string together a strong showing through Central Valley counties and hook up through San Diego and Orange Counties to his home county of Los Angeles.

Such a plan could offset the expected strength rival and former San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, has in the Bay Area.

For Republicans in the 1980s and 1990s, the plan was to capture inland counties, run strong in San Diego and Orange counties, and break even in populous Los Angeles County.

Demographic and ideological changes wiped away that GOP strategy years ago but Villaraigosa might be able to revive it with a slightly altered scenario. If he runs strong in the inland counties, holds his own in the southern counties and cleans up in Los Angeles County, he could be on the way to the corner office.

Hints that he is considering such a roadmap started with the kick-off of his campaign for governor. The former Los Angeles mayor conducted a “listening tour” in the state’s Central Valley. He continues to work the Valley hard. This week he announced a number of endorsements from Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula and ten Fresno area political leaders.

The politics of San Diego and Orange County have changed over recent years and are more in play for Democrats. With a Democratic focus on unseating some Orange County Republicans from congress, turnout might be higher than expected. Villaraigosa would have to hold his own against rivals from both parties but the increased Latino voter base will help him. In a June IGS UC Berkeley poll, Villaraigosa showed extremely well with the Latino community.

Interestingly, in that same poll Newsom had a lead over Villaraigosa in the Central Valley, one reason Villaraigosa is working the area hard because he sees the Central Valley as more a natural turf for his campaign than those of his opponents.

The key to the fishhook strategy then and now is Los Angeles County.

For Republicans decades ago, Los Angeles had to play neutral. The last time a Republican presidential candidate won California, George H.W. Bush in 1988, L.A. County broke about even, 52% for Michael Dukakis, 47% for Bush. The last presidential election went 72% for Hillary Clinton and 22% for Donald Trump.

Newsom understands the value of scoring well in populous Los Angeles and is spending much campaign time there.

If this old GOP strategy can work for Villaraigosa he would have to continue making his case in the Central Valley while hoping the residents of Los Angeles who know him well think of him fondly.

(Update: Long time Republican consultant and Reagan White House speechwriter Ken Khachigian points out that he first described and named the “fishhook” strategy in the 1996 Dole for President campaign.)