This is one of those races where it just seems unlikely a Republican could win. And yet, even the LA Times is acknowledging today that the race for mayor of Los Angeles is pretty close.

The race for mayor of Los Angeles was tightening rapidly as it entered its final week, with Rick Caruso cutting deeply into Rep. Karen Bass’ lead, putting him within striking distance in the contest to run the nation’s second-largest city.

Bass continues to hold an edge, 45% to 41% among likely voters, with 13% saying they remain undecided, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times. But Bass’ advantageis within the poll’s margin of error and strikingly smaller than the 15-point margin she held a month ago…

“This race could go either way,” said Tommy Newman, senior director at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, who is working with a coalition to pass a housing tax measure on the November ballot and is a close watcher of local politics

“Nobody has this in the bag. There has been tremendous movement with Latino voters. The question is, will that correlate into votes?” Newman said. “[Caruso] is probably running the most robust field campaign we have ever seen in a mayor’s race. In a tight race, that’s when field campaigns matter.”

Technically, both Bass and Caruso are Democrats but Caruso is a billionaire real estate developer and former Republican who only registered as a Democrat in January. As far as LA candidates go he’s on the right. Caruso has been spending his money wisely, including a lot of Spanish language ads that seem to have worked.

A good deal of Caruso’s advertising is in Spanish. Together with the canvassing aimed at Latino voters, that pitch appears to be paying off. In the last Berkeley IGS poll just over a month ago, Bass led among Latino likely voters by 6 points, 35% to 29%; she now trails by 17% in that group, 48% to 31%.

Meanwhile, Bass is a progressive who is leading by 60 points among “strongly liberal” voters in the city. She recently held a rally with Bernie Sanders:

…a nearly 2,000-person rally Bass held Thursday night alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who remains an immensely popular figure among progressives in the city.

“I am asking you in the next 12 days to work as hard as you can to elect Karen and other progressives,” he told the Playa Vista crowd. “But I’m asking you to come back the day after the election and continue to struggle to make sure that in America, we have the economic justice we deserve.”

She has been endorsed by ever major Democrat with the exception of one:

Seemingly every major player in the Democratic Party has endorsed Rep. Karen Bass to be the next mayor of Los Angeles: President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama.

Missing from the list is California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom’s unusual choice to stay out of a contest that has become surprisingly close likely stems from his reluctance to oppose Rick Caruso, a billionaire former Republican who has spent enormous sums to beat Bass, according to two people close to the governor who are familiar with his thinking.

The two men share professional connections — and political consultants. And Newsom has been clear publicly that he’s fond of Caruso, a prolific campaign donor.

“I’ve known Rick Caruso for years and years and years,” Newsom said in August.

One Democratic consultant told Politico, “It just makes it strange in a race where you have essentially a Democrat versus a Republican that Newsom is neutral.” There are still a few days left but looks like Newsom is going to stay out of this race. And who knows, maybe he secretly thinks Caruso would be a better mayor but can’t afford to buck his party too much.

In any case, Caruso has been running on the issues that are working for Republican candidates around the country, especially rising crime and homelessness. In the current environment, that should make this a tight race.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...