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Rep. Karen Bass makes it official: ‘I’m running for mayor’

Rep. Karen Bass put out a statement Monday saying she will run for Los Angeles mayor in 2022.
Rep. Karen Bass put out a statement Monday saying she will run for Los Angeles mayor in 2022, joining a growing field of candidates hoping to succeed Eric Garcetti.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) launched her campaign for Los Angeles mayor on Monday, telling Angelenos she’s in the race with her “whole heart” and ready to tackle the city’s homelessness epidemic.

“Our city is facing a public health, safety and economic crisis in homelessness that has evolved into a humanitarian emergency,” Bass said in a statement. “I’ve spent my entire life bringing groups of people together in coalitions to solve complex problems and produce concrete change — especially in times of crisis.”

She added: “With my whole heart, I’m ready. Let’s do this — together. I’m running for mayor.”

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Bass, who served as state Assembly speaker before being elected to Congress, co-founded Community Coalition, a South L.A. nonprofit focused on social and economic issues.

She joins a field that includes City Atty. Mike Feuer, City Councilmen Kevin de León and Joe Buscaino, business leader Jessica Lall and real estate broker Mel Wilson.

Two others, real estate developer Rick Caruso and former L.A. Unified Supt. Austin Beutner, have been exploring a mayoral bid.

With the election eight months away, voters are finally getting a clearer picture of the June 2022 contest to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Bass’ spokesman, Zach Seidl, said Monday that she wasn’t available for an interview.

On an election website launched Monday, Bass signaled that homelessness would be a top campaign issue. Bass wrote that solving this crisis means “addressing the root causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, healthcare, job training, mental health services, and drug and alcohol counseling.”

Bass, 67, will need to divide her time between the campaign and her duties in Washington. She represents a district that includes all or parts of South Los Angeles, Mid-City, Culver City and Palms.

“She is certainly capable of continuing to be a leader in D.C. during the campaign,” said Jamarah Hayner, Bass’ campaign manager.

Steve Barkan and Parke Skelton have been retained as political strategists for Bass’ run, Hayner said.

Bass has reported raising more than $520,000 for her congressional reelection campaign. She withdrew Monday from the 2022 House race, according to a filing she made with the Federal Election Commission.

One of the last members of Congress to launch a bid for Los Angeles mayor was then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. He fared poorly in the 2001 primary, receiving 6% of the vote.

Bass’ entrance into the race was expected. In recent weeks, she told reporters that she was seriously considering a bid, while her supporters in Los Angeles — a diverse group that includes activists, City Hall politicians and Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg — also talked up Bass for mayor.

Shortly after Bass’ announcement Monday, Feuer’s campaign challenged the candidates to a debate on homelessness. Feuer also called for a series of citywide debates.

“Voters deserve to know much more about who we are and what we stand for because in many ways their safety, livelihoods and quality of life depend on it,” Feuer said. “So, let’s debate. Let’s debate now and let’s debate often.”


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