As expected, Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso jumped ahead of the field in the primary race for Los Angeles mayor on June 7 and were on course for a November runoff.
In initial results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar/County Clerk — representing ballots returned through June 6 — Caruso received 90,579 votes, or 40.65%, with Bass trailing close behind with 85,164 votes, or 38.22%.
L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León was a distant third with 7.13% of the vote, followed by community activist Gina Viola at 5.12%.
Caruso and Bass, D-Los Angeles, were already the clear front-runners, according to polls, with a tally released June 6, showing Bass leading with 38% of likely voters’ support and Caruso close behind with 32%.
Bass, speaking at the W Hotel, told supporters, “Now we don’t have the final numbers yet, but let me tell you, I have a feeling we’re going to do very well tonight.
“Tonight, we’re seeing the voters make a clear choice. They want leadership that is battle-tested, mission-driven and always fights for L.A.’s values. Tonight the city will see that it’s hard to defeat a people power campaign.”
Bass, 68, would be Los Angeles’ first female mayor and only the second Black mayor, after Tom Bradley, who led the city from 1973 to 1993.
She would also be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.
Bass was elected to the House in 2010 and was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2019-21. She was under consideration to be President Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate, but then-Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, was chosen instead.
Bass’ campaign has also highlighted her work as an activist before holding elected office. In 1990, she founded the nonprofit Community Coalition, with the goal of transforming social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles.
Her campaign’s platform includes plans to address climate change, homelessness and public safety.
To reduce crime, Bass stresses the need for community-based investments to prevent the root causes of crime, including drug treatment and mental health services, housing, outreach, domestic violence assistance and youth programs.
Her public safety plan also calls for the hiring of civilian personnel within the Los Angeles Police Department to move desk officers to patrol, bringing the department to its authorized force of 9,700. As of May 17, the department had 9,352 sworn personnel.
Her campaign calls for temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to get the city’s unhoused population off the street, setting an ambitious goal of housing 15,000 people by the end of her first year as mayor.
Her temporary housing plan includes identifying available city-owned land; converting existing motels, hotels, closed hospitals and vacant commercial buildings; and partnering with religious and community institutions, as well as private companies.
To build long-term and affordable housing, she is calling for policies that will expedite affordable housing developments and state funding to increase units through the Project Homekey program. She also calls for more affordable housing, saying 352,000 people in Los Angeles are at risk of
Bass also released a climate change plan and said that as mayor she would help lead the city to its goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035, as well as continue efforts to decarbonize buildings and achieve a zero emission Port of Los Angeles.
De León, 55, has served on the Los Angeles City Council since October 2020, after a special election for the District 14 seat vacated by Jose Huizar, who was charged in a federal investigation into bribery and corruption. De León previously served as the president pro tempore of the California Senate, where he served from 2010-18. He served in the state Assembly from 2006-10.
One of de León’s early moves on the City Council was a series of motions as part of his “A Way Home” initiative to have the city develop a plan to create 25,000 homeless housing units by 2025. Along with building more shelters and housing for people who are unhoused, De León’s campaign calls for mandating affordable housing in all new developments and ensuring that tenants have a right to counsel when facing eviction.
He also advocates expanding the number of social workers and mental health professionals that respond to mental health crises and calls for service related to homelessness, instead of police officers.
During a debate with Caruso and other candidates advocating for expanding the LAPD’s force, de León took aim at the plans, saying they would come with added cost to Angelenos. Like Bass, de León called for bringing the department to its currently budgeted level of 9,700 officers.
Along with Viola, the race for mayor also included runs from real estate agent Mel Wilson, business executive Craig Greiwe, social justice advocate Alex Gruenenfelder Smith, lawyer Andrew Kim and business owner John “Isamuel” Jackson.
Early election results show Kim with 2.29% of the vote, Smith with 1.07%, Greiwe with 0.4%, Wilson with 0.33% and Jackson with 0.3%.
The race initially included Councilman Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and entrepreneur Ramit Varma before the three dropped out in May.
Feuer threw his support behind Bass, while Buscaino and Varma endorsed Caruso.
The campaigns have brought in a total of $47.5 million, most from Caruso himself, who has largely self-funded his campaign with nearly $34 million.
Although some campaign watchers had pondered whether Caruso – with his mighty self-funded campaign war chest and weeks-long advertising blitz — could gather more than 50% of the primary vote and avoid the runoff, that November showdown with Bass now is at hand.
Caruso, 63, is the developer behind The Grove, Palisades Village and other shopping centers. He was born in Los Angeles and served as president of the civilian Police Commission after being appointed to the panel by Mayor James Hahn in August 2001, as well as on the Board of Water and Power
In January — about three weeks before announcing his bid for mayor in a city almost entirely run by Democrats — Caruso changed his voter registration to Democrat after almost a decade of being registered with no party preference. He was registered as a Republican before that.