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Rep. Karen Bass Announces Her Bid For LA Mayor

U.S. Representative Karen Bass, wearing a blue jacket over a black blouse, stands holding a microphone in her right hand.
Congresswoman Karen Bass attends the official unveiling of city of Los Angeles' Obama Boulevard in honor of the 44th President of the United States of America on May 4, 2019.
(Leon Bennett
Getty Images)
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Rep. Karen Bass has made it official: she's running for mayor of Los Angeles.

"With my whole heart, I'm ready," Bass said in a Monday morning tweet announcing her candidacy.

Her campaign website centers homelessness as the city's key crisis.

Bass did not make a public announcement, and her campaign manager, Jamarah Hayner, said Bass would not be available for interviews today. But Hayner told LAist that, regarding homelessness, “We can see a lot of problems that contribute. We do not have adequate mental health care. We do not have a real social safety net for people that most desperately need help. So all of these things sort of feed in from criminal justice reform, to more affordable housing, to actual mental health care and public health.”

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Hayner added that Bass is running to address another crisis in the city: “Los Angeles is also very much facing a crisis around our civic space, how we talk to each other, how we work with each other. Divisiveness is a scary reality that we've been dealing with for four years under Trump. And we see it creeping in here in L.A. as well.”

L.A.'s mayoral race will coincide with the Congressional mid-term election, which should improve turnout.

“We changed the election system that now local city officials have to run in the even year. And that turnout is going to be twice as high, maybe more than twice as high given recent data that we have. It's a very different mayor's race than we've ever had. And it makes the Latino vote, much much higher and stronger," said Fernando Guerra, political science professor and director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University:

Bass joins a group of declared candidates that includes city councilmembers Kevin de León and Joe Buscaino, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and business leaders Jessica Lall and Mel Wilson.

Some observers see Bass and de León battling for the progressive vote, and it also sets up a possible split between Black and Latino voters, who typically join forces to back Democratic candidates. But municipal races in L.A. are non-partisan, and registered Latino voters outnumber Blacks in the city.

“Within voters, Latinos continue to grow because of the youth, and how they're becoming voters," Guerra said. "So while the Latino population has stopped growing, everything is stable now. They will be the largest group that votes in June.”

Bass got her start in community organizing in South L.A. before serving from 2005 to 2010 in the California State Assembly, where she was speaker for two years. Since 2011, she has represented the 37th District, which includes the communities of South L.A., Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Century City and West L.A.

Bass previously said she was weighing a run for mayor after being enticed by an online campaign from local progressive organizers.

In July, President Joe Biden nominated Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next U.S. Ambassador to India. If he's confirmed, the L.A. City Council will appoint an interim mayor to serve the remainder of his term, which runs through December 2022.