With 44% of the vote in as of Wednesday morning, businessman Rick Caruso is currently holding a slight 51%-49% edge over Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) in the Los Angeles Mayoral election, with a clear winner unlikely to be known for days.
Election night in LA was marred by heavy rains and a slow trickle of votes coming in for both candidates, with Caruso managing to stay at least a few thousand votes ahead during each update. For Caruso, the dead heat race marked a stunning turnaround. In early September, Caruso had been down 12 points in polls. However, a mix of disastrous scandals for Bass, including allegations that she had accepted a scholarship from USC in exchange for passing key legislation, tens of millions going towards ads, extended outreaches into the Latino community, and a sharp increase of in-person visits bridged the gap to 3 points by the beginning of October. Further advancement following the fallout of the City Council racist recording scandal propelled him further in the final weeks of the election, winding up virtually tied in final polls.
Speaking from his viewing party at The Grove on Tuesday night, Caruso remained optimistic while also confirming that he would not be running for Mayor again after this election, win or lose. He further noted that he had run not for the office or prestige, but out of love for the city.
“The wonderful thing I never knew as a candidate, when you’re running for mayor, is that you develop a larger family alongside the people that you would never have met in communities, because we’ve all come together for a cause. And that’s a very uplifting thing,” said Caruso late Tuesday night. “We don’t know the outcome yet, but I’m happy to say that we’re starting out strong.”
In tweets early on Wednesday morning, he added that “I’m proud to have earned the hundreds of thousands of votes from Angelenos who are ready for change. I am confident that once every vote is counted, the momentum we saw throughout this campaign will send me to the Mayor’s office to fight for all Angelenos. For now, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my family, our campaign staff, and to you – Angelenos who showed your support, donated your time, & gave us your vote.
“Together, I know that we have the power, and the plans, to end street homelessness, stop corruption, and finally get to work building a brighter future for LA — one where every Angeleno can thrive.”
I’m proud to have earned the hundreds of thousands of votes from Angelenos who are ready for change. I am confident that once every vote is counted, the momentum we saw throughout this campaign will send me to the Mayor’s office to fight for all Angelenos.
— Rick J. Caruso (@RickCarusoLA) November 9, 2022
A close mayoral race
Bass, meanwhile, had faced a large downhill battle since the scandals in September, with endorsements from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris failing to keep the Bass campaign from undoing months of progress within a few weeks. However, her campaign did manage to hit the brakes on their fall a few weeks before election day, coasting into the now tied polling situation by reinvigorating her base and having prominent Democrats campaign for her throughout the city. Her message, as well as the historical bend of having the first female and second black Mayor of LA, resonated just in time with many undecideds.
Speaking from her Hollywood Palladium watch party on Tuesday night, Bass addressed her supporters and, like Caruso, showed optimism that she would ultimately win.
“We have a vision for this city. We wanted a campaign that looked like Los Angeles,” noted Bass on Tuesday. “That looks like this room. A campaign that reflected the hope, the diversity, and the brilliance of our city. A vision of our city moving in a new direction. A city that pulls out all the stops. We will win, because we are going to build a new Los Angeles.”
Bass later added in a tweet that “We won’t know the final result of the election tonight, but we do know that we made history with our movement. Thank you Los Angeles!”
We won’t know the final result of the election tonight, but we do know that we made history with our movement.
Thank you Los Angeles! pic.twitter.com/djjdGcY5yz
— Karen Bass (@KarenBassLA) November 9, 2022
As of Wednesday morning, Caruso slowly expanded his lead, with the developer holding 51.25% of the vote, or 252,476 votes in. Bass is slightly down, with 48.75% of the vote, or 240,194 votes in. While 44% of all votes have been counted, the closeness of the race still means that it is still anyone’s race. Many political experts have pointed out that Bass had been in this place before, yet also came away with the win.
“During the primary voting in June, Caruso had shocked many by leading in the race for the first several days after the election,” explained Jan Ives, a Washington-based local election analyst, to the Globe on Wednesday. “But then the votes were counted more and more, and Bass shot up and overtook Caruso. Bass ultimately won by over 40,000 votes, 43% to 36%.
“But we also have to remember, there are only two candidates this time around, and Bass had a lot more baggage going into the November race. It can still go either way. But Bass has to be embarrassed win or lose. This was supposed to be an easy win, just as it had for many LA Mayoral elections before it. And Caruso, whom many consider a DINO, will either beat her or have the race come super close. Not a great look.”
For those in LA City Hall, many are apprehensive about the change in leadership.
“Generally, most people have been Bass supporters here,” explained one anonymous City Hall worker to the Globe on Wednesday. “They’re adamantly saying that she will win and aren’t even entertaining the idea that Caruso will stay in the lead. I don’t know what they will do if she loses. The mood in one word: uncertain.”
Updated figures are expected to come in throughout the coming days, with a winner possibly not being known for weeks.
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