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LA Mayor: Karen Bass And Rick Caruso Are Headed For A November Mayoral Showdown

A composite photo of Rick Caruso, dressed in a dark gray suit, white tie and light gray tie and  Karen Bass, wearing a salmon-colored outfit.
Rick Caruso and Karen Bass appear headed for a face-off in November.
(Alborz Kamalizad and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez / LAist)
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About these results
  • These results will be updated periodically. Keep in mind that even after all precincts have been counted, there will still be ballots to count. In some cases, it could be weeks before the official outcome is clear.

As had been widely expected, Congresswoman Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso are leading the pack of candidates to succeed Eric Garcetti as Mayor of Los Angeles. That's according to results posted on election night by the L.A. County Registrar's office, which continued tallying votes overnight.

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If no candidate receives 50% of votes, then the top two finishers will face off in November.

Caruso's lead hovered between two-to-three percentage points for much of election night, but by early Wednesday that had grown to just over 5%. Those totals included all mail ballots returned before Tuesday, along with early votes that were cast in person. The next step is counting votes that were cast in person on election day, along with a smaller number of mail votes that were postmarked by election day and provisional votes that were allowed at the polls on Tuesday. The final count could take weeks to complete.

In 2013, the last time there was an open seat for L.A. Mayor, there were almost 378,000 votes cast in the primary. But unlike this year, that race did not share the ballot with prominent county and statewide races. Still, there have been reports in recent days that turnout for this election would be low.

Bass is in her sixth term member as a member of Congress, but has said she bypassed another possible term because Los Angeles — and all its problems — called her home. If she wins the November general election, she would become L.A.'s first female mayor and the first African American mayor since Tom Bradley.

Caruso, who toyed with a run for mayor in 2013, filed to run for the office just before the deadline this year. He has poured more than $30 million of his own wealth into the campaign, which has critics accusing him of potentially buying the election. The money certainly helped build his name recognition, which he acknowledged to his supporters who gathered Tuesday night at his popular Fairfax District shopping center, The Grove.

"Only a couple of months ago, only six percent of the people knew who I was," he said.

Caruso has served on the L.A. Police Commission and the Department of Water and Power Commission, and formerly headed the USC Board of Trustees. He is perhaps best known as the developer of popular retail centers that include The Americana at Brand in Glendale.

LA mayoral candidate Rick Caruso stands at a podium onstage along with family members. The U.S., state of California and City of LA flags can be seen onstage against a blue curtain. In the foreground, seen from behind, is a crowd of supporters, may of whom are holding up their phones.
L.A. mayoral candidate Rick Caruso spoke to supporters on election night at The Grove.
(Jackie Fortier/LAist)

The L.A. mayor's race is officially non-partisan, but Caruso has drawn criticism for being a former Republican who backed various conservative causes and candidates who opposed abortion. He has focused his campaign on solving homelessness and crime, telling his supporters that "Angelenos just want their fair share of the American Dream."

LA Mayoral candidate Karen Bass, an African American woman with glasses and short-cropped hair, stands on a crowded stage, surrounded by family members and campaign workers.
LA Mayoral candidate Karen Bass spoke to supporters on election night at the W Hotel in Hollywood.
(Julia Paskin/LAist)
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On election night, Bass addressed her backers who gathered at the W Hotel in Hollywood. She took the stage surrounded by a diverse group of family members and said they “looked like Los Angeles.”

Bass said her campaign reflects the strength of “people power” — those who knocked on doors and made calls, as opposed to relying on big spending by her campaign. She repeated her pledge to address the homelessness crisis by housing 15,000 people in her first year in office.

Whoever becomes mayor will inherit a city council with at least three — and possibly four — new faces. Joe Buscaino (District 15) and Paul Koretz (District 5) are termed out and Mike Bonin (District 11) decided not to seek re-election. In District 13, which includes parts of Hollywood and Silver Lake, incumbent Mitch O'Farrell appears headed for a runoff against Hugo Soto-Martinez. Challengers rarely oust L.A.. city council members seeking re-election, but in 2020 Nithya Raman became the first candidate in 17 years to do so when she defeated David Ryu.

Other Mayoral Candidates

L.A. city councilman Kevin de León, who represents a district that includes Boyle Heights and downtown, had hoped to join Antonio Villaraigosa as a Latino mayor of this heavily Latino city, but his campaign never seemed to gain traction and in early results he had less than 8% of the vote. Still, if he decides to endorse Bass in the general election, it could provide her with a boost she will surely need to beat Caruso.

Progressive Gina Viola was a latecomer to the race who said she entered because she was disappointed by Bass' position on various issues, but outside of a relatively small cadre of supporters she also failed to make much headway during the campaign. Early results had her with just over 5% of the vote.

Two other prominent candidates withdrew from the race in the weeks before the election: L.A. city attorney Mike Feuer threw his support behind Bass, while L.A. city councilman Joe Buscaino decided to back Caruso. Feuer and Buscaino remained on the ballot because they withdrew after printing deadlines.

About This Race

Think of L.A.’s mayor as a CEO: they can appoint commissioners and boot city officials.

They also handle the money; mayors must propose a budget and report on how that money is spent to the City Council every year. (The 15-member City Council is basically Los Angeles’ legislature.)

And as the head of the second-largest city in the country, L.A.’s mayor has the ability to lead on social issues at the heart of national conversations. Their power over the budget allows them to carve out funding to pilot new programs that push ideas into the realm of political possibility.

In short, choosing a mayor is kind of a big deal. You can learn more about the position of L.A. mayor in our voter guide.

What's At Stake?

L.A.’s next mayor will inherit a city facing significant challenges. Among them:

The Candidates

Note: You'll see 12 names on the ballot to be the next Los Angeles mayor on the June 7 primary ballot. Three — Mike Feuer, Joe Buscaino and Ramit Varma — have already dropped out. Two others — John "Jsamuel" Jackson and Andrew Kim — did not respond to our requests for information and have filed no campaign finance information with the city.

Your Guide

You Should Know

How Local Primaries Work
  • If any one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the June primary, they will win the office outright. Otherwise, the two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to the November runoff.