Rick Caruso Holds Slim Lead Over Karen Bass In Early Returns – Deadline

Early results tonight in the hard-fought race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles were close, with developer Rick Caruso leading Rep. Karen Bass by less than 2,000 votes with 12% of the votes in.

Caruso held a slim lead over Bass, with 50.26% of the vote compared to 49.74% for Bass, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar- Recorder/County Clerk.

Who In Hollywood Voted For Karen Bass & Who Voted For Rick Caruso

The early results included vote-by-mail ballots cast before Election Day and vote center ballots cast before Election Day. Even a slim lead for Caruso is remarkable given he once trailed Bass by a considerable margin. A Los Angeles Times-U.C. Berkeley poll in late October indicated that the race was tightening after Bass had sizable lead earlier in the campaign. Experts cautioned the race was not expected to be called today.

Bass, a six-term member of Congress, is seeking to become the first woman and only the second Black person to lead Los Angeles. Caruso, a real estate billionaire, is looking to win a campaign that’s on track to spend over $100 million — much of it from Caruso’s own fortune and spent to propel him into contention.

Bass held a comfortable lead in the polls just a month ago, but the survey ahead of Election Day showed that Caruso had closed the gap considerably. Bass led Caruso 45% to 41%, a gap within the 4% margin of error. Furthermore, the poll found 13% of voters undecided.

A Southern California News Group poll conducted by J. Wallin Opinion Research from Oct. 15-17 found a 3-point lead for Caruso, which was also within the margin of error.

An earlier version of the UC Berkeley IGS Poll in early October showed Bass with a 15-point advantage among likely voters.

Whoever wins the election will inherit leadership of a city grappling with a scandal that has embroiled City Hall for the past month, after three council members and a top county labor official took part in a leaked conversation in October 2021 that included racist comments and attempts to manipulate redistricting.

“We’ve had a really volatile month in L.A. County, and Rick Caruso has made a late push here that clearly has made, at least in the polling, a significant difference,” said Mindy Romero, director of USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy.

Caruso was criticized fort financing his campaign with his personal fortune. But he said he didn’t
take money from special interest groups, he would not be swayed by lobbyists and have the city’s best interests at heart.

Bass has also criticized Caruso for switching political parties. Caruso was a Republican until 2019 and donated to anti-abortion politicians, allowing Bass to contrast herself as a “lifelong, pro-choice Democrat” in a city that leans heavily Democratic.

Both candidates have acknowledged the gravity of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles but differed on how to approach it. The latest homeless count released this month showed a 1.7% increase in the number of unhoused people in Los Angeles since 2020, bringing the total to 41,980 — some feel that count, taken on one of the coldest nights of the year, may underestimate the true growth of the problem.

Initial results from Tuesday’s voting were posted by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk shortly after 8 p.m. — but experts cautioned that people should not read too much into them, with millions of vote- by-mail ballots still to be counted. A close race might not be determined until late this week.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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