In the last few weeks leading up to the Los Angeles Mayoral election, real estate developer and candidate Rick Caruso has seen a surge of prominent endorsements come back him for support, further indicating that Congresswoman and fellow candidate Karen Bass (D-CA) may not have the easy win she had been expected to have only a few months ago.
When Bass announced her run for Mayor in September 2021, she immediately flew to the top of polls. Coming into 2022, and with only City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de Leon, as well as City Attorney Mike Feuer, only giving minor opposition, Bass had double digit leads with analysts saying that she would easily cruise to victories in June and November. Bass also had dozens of prominent endorsements coming into the spring, with the LA Times backing her, and with dozens of local, state, and national lawmakers backing her, ranging from City Council members and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Assembly members to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). As of Friday, this includes 16 current former members of Congress, 2 Senators, 8 state Assemblymembers, and numerous City Councilmembers.
But then, shortly before the candidate deadline, Caruso entered the race. To the surprise of all the candidates, Caruso quickly expanded from his initial voting bloc in the San Fernando Valley and grabbed the critical support of white voters, Latino voters, and nearly every police group in the city. And, while registered as a Democrat, Caruso’s conservative roots also began bringing out Republican and moderate support en masse in amounts that hadn’t been seen in decades, as well as further support from businesspeople in the city who had been feeling disaffected for years.
By April, Caruso began leading Bass in the polls and hasn’t let up since. The latest polls still have Caruso in the lead over Bass. While no major polls have been released in the last few weeks, a massive number of endorsements for Caruso in the last few weeks indicate that support still remains high.
While Bass holds the vast majority of union and elected lawmaker endorsements, thanks in large part to her status as a longtime Democrat and Congresswoman, Caruso has been getting support through ways not often seen in major races. Thanks to high crime in LA and Caruso’s stance on crime, police support has been unusually effective in 2022, especially since the George Floyd riots are still in many peoples memories. Most police groups have come out in favor of Caruso, with former police chiefs, and most recently, former Mayor Richard Riordan formally backing him.
A growing number of endorsements for Caruso
Even more impressive have been the number of prominent businesspeople and other individuals who have come out in support of Caruso. Prominent Latinos, such as actor George Lopez, coming out in support of Caruso in recent days, have shown just how much support Caruso has been cultivating from Latinos in the city. The business community has also been energized by Caruso, with many seeing him as the last hope for the city to turn around the sagging business climate. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos and others have favored Caruso, with the most recent endorsement also being one of Caruso’s biggest to date: Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk.
“Los Angeles is fortunate to have someone like Rick Caruso running for mayor. He’s awesome,” tweeted Musk on Friday. “It is rare for me to endorse political candidates. My political leanings are moderate, so neither fully Republican nor Democrat, which I am confident is the case for most Americans. Executive competence is super underrated in politics – we should care about that a lot more!”
Los Angeles is fortunate to have someone like Rick Caruso running for mayor. He’s awesome.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 3, 2022
Experts note that the rise of support in favor of Caruso heading into the primary on June 7th is promising for his camp, but also note that Bass still has months to get momentum back in the race as well.
“Caruso is riding that wave of momentum right now,” explained Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin in a Globe interview on Friday. “It’s hard to ignore support coming from the richest man in the world and someone who just spurned the state in the last few years suddenly be favor of someone in it again.”
“But don’t count Bass out. She wants this race badly and many of her supporters have been disheartened to now being second place. The vote next week will put everyone in a place to know where they are, especially when it comes to voting percentages. If Caruso gets first, Bass will do anything to get back ahead of him. They’ve been in denial through the polls so far, but an election setting where things are at will be undeniable. If Bass is ahead, Caruso will need to find more support and reach out further to groups. He has done a good job so far, but if he comes in second next week, Caruso may go after her core support areas and try and sway them. Both candidates have a lot of options.
“At the very least, it’s just that much more disheartening to see more and more prominent people favor Caruso to those for Bass. Big bruise to the ego.”
The LA Mayoral primary is to be held this coming Tuesday.