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Rick Caruso and Karen Bass Headed to Runoff in Race for L.A. Mayor

karen bass rick caruso los angeles
ASSOCIATED PRESS | Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection

Rick Caruso and Karen Bass are headed to a November runoff in the race for Los Angeles mayor, as the Associated Press projected that neither candidate will claim a majority in Tuesday’s primary.

Caruso took a three-point lead over Bass in the early results, with about 41% of the vote to Bass’ 38%. In a speech at The Grove, his shopping center in the Fairfax District, Caruso said that voters had sent a message about the importance of dealing with homelessness and crime.

“We are not helpless in the face of our problems,” he said. “We will not allow the city to decline. We will no longer accept excuses.”

Addressing her supporters, Bass said her goal is to make clear that she is the only true Democrat in the race. She also it will be essential to “deconstruct that fake image” that Caruso had created during the campaign. Caruso, a longtime Republican, switched his party affiliation to Democrat shortly before entering the race earlier this year.

Kevin De Leon, a city councilman, trailed far behind the top two with 7%, followed by Gina Viola at 5%. Turnout appeared to be very low, though ballots are still coming in. Final results may not be known for several days.

Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer and former city commissioner, has dominated the airwaves after pouring $37.5 million of his own money into his campaign.

Bass, a six-term congresswoman from Baldwin Hills, won support from much of liberal Hollywood, as well as the endorsements from Democratic office holders and progressive groups.

A few candidates dropped out in the final weeks of the campaign. Mike Feuer, the city attorney, ended his campaign and endorsed Bass, while Councilman Joe Buscaino threw his support to Caruso.

Caruso has pitched himself as an outsider who will shake up City Hall, adding police officers and building 30,000 beds to shelter the homeless. Bass has meanwhile emphasized her skills as a legislator in Washington and Sacramento and has pledged to house 15,000 homeless people within the first year of taking office.

Bass’ campaign has also sought to portray Caruso as a Republican whose values are out of step with most Los Angeles voters. In recent days, the campaign released an ad comparing Caruso to President Trump, calling him a “tax-dodging, tax return-hiding, divisive real estate developer.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, has paid for ads attacking Bass for missing votes in Congress and for accepting free tuition for a social work program at USC.

In another race that has attracted attention, Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva appeared to be headed to a runoff against Robert Luna, the former Long Beach police chief.