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Joe Buscaino Withdraws From LA Mayor's Race, Endorses Caruso

Joe Buscaino wears a dark gray suit and blue shirt and tie. He's smiling in front of a mic.
L.A. City Councilmember Joe Buscaino is withdrawing from the race for mayor.
(James Evers for LAist)
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Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino dropped out of the race for mayor Thursday and endorsed businessman Rick Caruso. Buscaino was polling at 1% among 12 candidates in the race, according to an April pollby the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies.

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“Rick and I agree on the playbook to solve the city’s pressing issues,” Buscaino said in a joint statement with Caruso. “Today’s decision did not come easy, but the future of Los Angeles is my priority.”

Buscaino and Caruso have campaigned on hiring an additional 1,500 police officers and more aggressively using them to clear homeless encampments from the streets. They both also promised to build more temporary shelters.

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But Buscaino, a former LAPD sergeant, never broke double digits in the polls. Caruso, a billionaire, rocketed to the top of the pack of candidates by spending more than $20 million on his campaign. That’s more than his competitors' spending combined.

In addition, the Los Angeles Police Protective League — the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers — has a war chest of nearly $2 million for a negative ad campaign against Karen Bass, the only candidate holding her own with Caruso in the polls.

Caruso and Bass are polling at 24% and 23% respectively among likely voters. All other candidates are polling in the single digits. If nobody wins a majority of vote in the June 7 primary, the top two vote-getters will face off in November.

“I have tremendous respect for Joe and his deep commitment to the people of Los Angeles,” Caruso said in the statement. “I’m honored to have his endorsement and look forward to his counsel on issues like homelessness and criminal justice."

You can watch Buscaino's May 4 conversation with our newsroom about what he'd hoped to do as mayor.