Rep. Karen Bass has beaten businessman Rick Caruso in the race for mayor of Los Angeles, according to an Associated Press projection on Wednesday, making her the first woman and second Black Angeleno elected to lead the city in 241 years of history.
The 69-year-old congresswoman won despite Caruso spending more than $100 million of her own fortune on her mayoral bid, shattering local spending records and pumping unprecedented sums into on-the-ground outreach and television advertising.
“The results are in, and it’s the honor of my life to be elected mayor,” Bass said in an email Wednesday afternoon to his supporters. “It’s time to house people immediately, increase safety and opportunity in every neighborhood, and create a new standard of ethics and accountability at City Hall.”
Caruso, 63, spent Bass more than 11 to 1 but ultimately couldn’t win as a former republican in a sapphire blue city in California.
Preliminary results swung on election night, but by early the next morning Caruso had taken a slim lead, buoyed by support from voters who marked ballots in person. Mail-in ballots processed after Election Day heavily favored Bass, and his margin in the race steadily increased. On Wednesday, she led by just over six points.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done to engage long-neglected communities, give a voice to those who are unheard, and shine a light on the biggest challenges facing our great city,” he said. Caruso said in a concession statement. “There will be more to come from the movement we’ve built, but for now, as a city, we need to unite around Mayor-Elect Bass and give her the support she needs to tackle the many issues with which we are faced. Congratulations, Karen, and God-speed.
Bass’s path to City Hall had begun to seem like a foregone conclusion in recent days, though more than a hundred thousand votes are likely still to be counted. The Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office is expected to certify the results Dec. 5.
Born in South Los Angeles, raised in the Venice-Fairfax area, and now a longtime resident of Baldwin Hills, Bass has spent her life deeply rooted in Los Angeles. Her social justice ideals took her from a county emergency room to nonprofit leadership and ultimately to the halls of power in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Her commute will be much shorter on December 12, when the Baldwin Hills resident is sworn in to succeed Eric Garcetti as Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor.
“This moment is extremely historic for two reasons,” USC Department of Political Science and International Relations Chair Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro said, citing Bass’ victory, as well as a broader leadership transformation. local politics.
Five years ago there was two women on the Los Angeles City Council and none held citywide office. By the end of 2022, at least five women will serve on council and two will hold citywide positions – Bass and incoming Atty of the city. Hydee Feldstein Soto. At the county level, women now hold all five seats to the powerful Supervisory Board, which historically had been predominantly male.
“Los Angeles is truly living what I would call a moment in the history of female leadership,” Hancock Alfaro said.
Bass will take over a city marred by corruption scandalswith a spiraling homelessness crisis and deep inequalities worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trust in local government is apparently at an all-time low after a series of indictments at mayor’s office in recent years and the release of leaked audio recording less than a month before the election which revealed senior officials making racist comments and plotting to maintain political power.
In the days leading up to the election, Bass said his first priority upon taking office would be to declare a state of homelessness emergency and work to get people housed in a town where up to ‘to 41,000 people are sleeping in tents, motorhomes and other makeshift accommodation.
The city’s first competitive mayoral race in nearly a decade was a story of contrasts, with two candidates who symbolized divergent visions of the city.
Bass, a black woman, spent decades in public service, growing from militant organizer to pragmatic elected official as she fought for incremental gains in underserved communities in Los Angeles.
The former Assembly Speaker and six-term congresswoman has a reputation as a staunchly low-key politician known for her coalition-building skills.
Caruso, a white man, built a real estate empire on spectacle and spectacular attention to detail, creating highly controlled private spaces like the Grove Mall that evoke an idealized version of city life.
His stellar candidacy – which largely focused on his easily digestible pledge to “clean up LA” – portrayed the former Police Commission chairman as a political underdog with the business chops to succeed where longtime politicians had failed.
Ultimately, however, it was the candidates’ disparate political histories that became the defining divide in the race.
Bass, a lifelong Democrat, has built a virtual wall of support from the Democratic establishment in the general election. These joint endorsements from elected officials and Democratic clubs helped shore up Bass’ frequent claim that she was “the only Democrat” in the race to lead a majority Blue city.
The property developer registered as a Democrat for the first time in late January, less than three weeks before he declared his candidacy. The party’s story weighed less heavily in the early months of a primary defined by voter frustrations over homelessness and crime.
But Caruso’s Republican past has become an inescapable albatross in summer and fall.
That race — the first modern Los Angeles mayoral election to be held in an even-numbered year, synchronized with state and federal elections — took place against a pervasive backdrop of hyper-partisan national politics.
The uphill battle for control of Congress has never been far from seen, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade two weeks after the June primary made right to the abortion an unlikely but powerful campaign issue. Caruso has loudly touted his support for abortion rights throughout the race, but his past donations to anti-abortion politicians and dark the story on the matter lent Bass a formidable line of attack.
Caruso covered his campaign materials with the word “Democrat” and largely sought to avoid discussion of his partisan political evolution on the track. But he changed tack in mid-October, running a TV ad that tackled the subject head-on and explained how the Republican Party “moved to a place that didn’t represent my values.”
His campaign hoped to replicate the success of Richard Riordan, a centrist Republican businessman whose victorious 1993 The mayoral bid rested on his good faith as an underdog and a then-record influx of personal funds from the first candidate.
Riordan succeeded Tom Bradley, the city’s first black mayor, who was elected in 1973 and guided Los Angeles through a two-decade term as mayor.
The 2022 race has gotten uglier in its final months as both candidates fought fire with fire. Much of the bombardment has focused on one of the city’s most important private institutions, with Bass and Caruso attacking their opponent’s dealings with scandals at USC. Caruso also hit out at Bass for a speech she gave praising Scientology. Bass and his supporters have frequently hammered Caruso for his Republican past, with his allies calling him a “liar” and one “fake.”
Bass became an instant favorite when she participated in the race last fallmore than four months before Caruso.
The property developer has built some of the area’s best-known shopping malls, but his name was little known when he entered the land. Unprecedented spending and an onslaught of publicity helped Caruso propulsively rise in contention and finish second in the primary, but Bass retained his status as a robust leader for much of the months-long battle to succeed. at Garcetti.
It was only in the last weeks before the race that the polls have narrowed considerablywhile Caruso was pouring around $3-4 million a week into his publicity barrage.
Caruso aimed to increase his lead with voters in the San Fernando Valley, Latinos and moderates, but Bass maintained strong support from women, liberals and registered Democrats.
Bass’ political consciousness took shape at the height of the civil rights movement, as a young girl listening to the pre-dawn news every morning with her postman father.
She began her career as a nurse and medical assistant, working at the height of the crack epidemic as the crisis devastated communities in South Los Angeles. Community Coalition — the politically influential nonprofit she founded — began as a living room meeting Bass led in 1990.
Long before she became the first black woman to lead a legislative body as California Assembly Speaker, Bass’s community leadership often brought her to city hall as an advocate pushing lawmakers from outside the system.
Now, amid fierce battles and frequent protests in council chambers, she will return to City Hall as the ultimate insider – the ruler of the nation’s second-largest city.