Los Angeles City Councilman and Mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino dropped out of the LA Mayoral race on Thursday, leaving only a handful of viable candidates still in the running.
Councilman Buscaino, who had been a candidate for Mayor since announcing his run in March of 2021, had been struggling to gain a foothold in the race. Buscaino did get some press coverage for his support of law enforcement and his efforts to help control the homelessness problem in LA, but was often overshadowed by other candidates, most notably Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA). He never rose above getting 4% of votes in polls, and following Developer Rick Caruso joining the race in February, Buscaino, along with all the other candidates, fell sharply. As of the latest poll, he had only 1% of the vote. Outside of his base of support from his City Council district, Buscaino has enjoyed some law enforcement support due to being a former LAPD officer and endorsements from several local lawmakers, but largely failed to get other areas of LA.
With Caruso attracting much of the public safety and law enforcement support that would have gone his way, as well as support from GOP members in LA who would have likely also backed him, Buscaino dropped out on Thursday. In a statement on Thursday, Buscaino also threw his support to Caruso and formally endorsed him, largely due to their similar plans for LA and strong public safety views.
“Rick and I agree on the playbook to solve the city’s pressing issues,” said Buscaino in a statement. “Today’s decision did not come easy, but the future of Los Angeles is my priority. Together we will make Los Angeles cleaner and safer for all. I’ll work with Caruso to clean up Los Angeles.”
Caruso, in turn, thanked Buscaino for his support and noted his respect for all he had done for the city of Los Angeles.
“I have tremendous respect for Joe and his deep commitment to the people of Los Angeles,” stated Caruso on Thursday. “I’m honored to have his endorsement and look forward to his counsel on issues like homelessness and criminal justice. Los Angeles is suffering, and working with Joe, I know we can clean up L.A.”
Experts noted that Buscaino’s support going to Caruso could solidify Caruso getting a first place finish in the primary next month and may give Bass, long considered the frontrunner in the race, a run for her money in November.
“To many voters, Buscaino has been just Caruso light,” explained Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin to the Globe on Thursday. “Now with him in his court, Caruso has now locked up police support, has gained many more centrist voters, and likely has another district, Buscaino’s, tilting in his favor. All the other campaigns should be worried about this, especially the Bass campaign. It may only be roughly 1%, but Bass has been expected to be the winner for so long. So if Caruso comes out of nowhere and beats her in the primary, it will be a great embarrassment to her. You know, a well known developer candidate with strong support for law enforcement beating a strongly Democratic female candidate who has struggled with likability problems outside her core support. Where have we heard that before?”
Buscaino, who dropped out of the Council race to focus on being Mayor, has not yet said what his plans are besides endorsing Caruso as of Thursday. The primary race is to be held on June 7th.