Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) emerged victorious in the race to replace Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, overcoming strong political headwinds to beat billionaire developer Rick Caruso.
After forcing Bass into a runoff in June, Caruso began losing ground in the weeks that followed, with polls showing the Los Angeles congresswoman ahead by double digits.
A finalist in Biden’s search for a vice presidential running mate, the president endorsed Bass in the mayor’s race, along with a host of prominent Democrats. Biden also appeared alongside her, reiterating his endorsement of the “soon-to-be Ms. Mayor.”
But Bass’s lead had started to crumble. She entered October with a 3-percentage-point lead against Caruso among registered voters, down from a 12-point advantage in August, according to a Los Angeles Times–UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll.
Soon after, a Southern California News Group poll suggested the candidates were locked in a statistical tie.
A Caruso aide described the candidates as neck-and-neck in the lead-up to Election Day.
“However you want to look at the race, [it] has tightened dramatically and is now a dead heat,” Peter Ragone told the Washington Examiner during the countdown.
The Los Angeles race focused on surging crime and inflation, factors that weighed heavily in major Democratic cities and districts this year.
Promising to “clean up” Los Angeles, Caruso vowed during the campaign to address a homelessness crisis and bring down crime in the city. He pitched himself as an outsider, unencumbered by relationships that could slow much-needed reform.
Bass charged that Caruso, a former Republican and an independent until recently, was ill-suited to lead a staunchly blue city, questioning his commitment to abortion rights, a prominent issue for Democrats this year.
The party faced mounting challenges leading up to Election Day, as voters identified the economy and surging prices as their top concerns.