U.S. Rep. Karen Bass moved closer to making Black history after she advanced to a runoff election following Tuesday’s primary election for mayor of Los Angeles. If she defeats Republican-turned Democrat Rick Caruso in November, Bass would become the first Black woman mayor of the City of Angels.
Neither of them eclipsed the 50% mark, which would have all but determined the winner of the upcoming general election. Instead, Caruso — a billionaire real estate developer — edged Bass by about five percentage points in a crowded field of 12 candidates.
Once all the votes are officially tallied, Bass was expected to finish with about 37% of the vote compared to Caruso’s estimated 42% in a margin that the Los Angeles Times reported was “widening.”
Still, Bass said she was confident of her chances in November and predicted: “we are going to win.”
Black voters could help make all the difference for Bass.
Polling data showed that while Black women voters support Bass in large numbers, the opposite was true with Black male voters, who have increasingly flocked to Caruso’s campaign in recent weeks. While primary election exit polling data was not immediately available, chances are that those same Black male voters helped pushed Caruso, 63, past Bass, 68, on Tuesday. Heading into Tuesday’s primary, about 15% of Los Angeles voters were undecided.
Perhaps most alarming about Caruso is his reported eagerness to be compared to fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who was elected mayor of New York City three times after leaving the Republican Party to become a Democrat.
Bloomberg, like Caruso, also placed a heavy emphasis on policing with an approach that was ultimately declared unconstitutional against Black and brown New Yorkers who, data shows, were racially profiled and disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.
Bass, of course, was part of the bipartisan Congressional group leading the efforts on a bill that would reform such police practices.
Notably, Caruso has sworn to “clean up” homelessness in Los Angeles, where Black people make up 34% of the city’s homeless population, according to statistics from 2020. In stark contrast, Black people comprise just 8% of the city’s overall population.
Given those truths, the data about Black voters in Los Angeles could still change and swing in favor of Bass, whose deep roots in the city’s Black community are undeniable.
While voter participation numbers from Tuesday were not immediately available, general elections usually see an uptick of ballots cast. If the Democratic establishment comes out in full force behind Bass, what with the DNC’s financial resources and wide-reaching influence, then Caruso may not stand a chance, even if/when he adds to the nearly $40 million of his own money he’s already spent on his campaign.
If Bass wins in November, she would join a growing number of Black mayors of major cities who have been elected in recent years, at least 11 of whom were sworn in this year alone. She would also become the second-ever Black mayor of the city. Tom Bradley served as Los Angeles’ first Black Mayor from 1973-1993.
Current Mayor Eric Garcetti is leaving office because of term limits.