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Karen Bass cuts into Rick Caruso’s slim lead in L.A. mayor’s race

L.A. mayoral candidates Rick Caruso, left, and Rep. Karen Bass, right.
The mayoral race between businessman Rick Caruso and Rep. Karen Bass has grown tighter, with Caruso ahead by just 2,695 votes, down from his 12,282-vote advantage a day earlier, according to new vote totals released Thursday.
(Los Angeles Times / Associated Press)
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The already close Los Angeles mayor’s race grew even tighter Thursday, with businessman Rick Caruso’s lead over U.S. Rep. Karen Bass reduced to just 2,695 votes, down from his 12,282-vote advantage a day earlier.

Caruso has 50.25% of the vote to Bass’ 49.75%, according to the latest results from county election officials. Before Thursday’s update, he held a 2.5-percentage-point lead in the campaign to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office promised another update on Friday. About 545,000 votes have been counted in the mayor’s race so far, but hundreds of thousands of mostly mail-in ballots remain, according to election analysts.

Election officials reported that 883,300 ballots remain to be processed countywide, which takes in 88 cities plus unincorporated communities. They did not say how many of those were from L.A.

Paul Mitchell, an expert in voting patterns who is closely monitoring the race, estimated that about 37.5% — roughly 331,000 — of the remaining ballots are from Los Angeles city voters.

The number of outstanding votes remains impossible to know, since ballots postmarked by election day are still arriving. Before the release of Thursday’s vote totals, Mitchell had calculated that Bass would need to win 52% of the outstanding ballots to win. She won 59% of the 52,000 mayoral votes reported Thursday.

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Experts have said they expect it to take a week or more after election day for a winner to be determined. In the June primary, Bass trailed Caruso by 5% in election-night tallies. One week later Bass pulled ahead, eventually winning by 7% of the vote.

L.A. County generally releases new vote totals only twice a week. That allows for more substantial updates, rather than incremental ones ‘where things are bouncing back and forth,’ the county’s top voting official said.

Nov. 10, 2022

“I continue to be cautiously optimistic about these numbers and look forward to the next series of results in the coming weeks,” Caruso said on Twitter on Thursday night.

Bass spokeswoman Sarah Leonard Sheahan said the campaign is confident Bass will win.

“As mayor, Karen Bass will chart a new direction for Los Angeles with comprehensive solutions for homelessness, public safety and affordability,“ she said.

In L.A.’s down-ballot contests, the results did not offer significant change.

City attorney candidate Hydee Feldstein Soto maintained her double-digit lead over attorney Faisal Gill. She now has nearly 58% of the vote, to Gill’s 42%, according to Thursday’s latest batch of results.

Labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez widened his lead slightly over Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who was running for a third term in an Echo Park-to-Hollywood district. Soto-Martinez now has 53%, compared with O’Farrell’s 47%.

In the race to replace Councilmember Mike Bonin, attorney Traci Park held onto a 10-point lead over attorney Erin Darling, in a district stretching from Los Angeles International Airport north to Pacific Palisades.

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On the Westside, political aide Katy Young Yaroslavsky was still well ahead of attorney Sam Yebri in the race to replace Councilmember Paul Koretz. And in the city’s harbor district, attorney Tim McOsker continued to hold a massive lead over former neighborhood council member Danielle Sandoval.

Over the past year, four Los Angeles City Council members have lost their campaigns for reelection or higher office. A fifth could soon join them.

Nov. 10, 2022

McOsker had 65%, compared with 35% for Sandoval, in the race to replace Councilmember Joe Buscaino, Thursday’s results showed.

Despite holding on to such a large margin, McOsker said he had no announcement to make. “I will keep watching the returns with everyone else,” he said.

In the race for city controller, certified public accountant Kenneth Mejia has already declared victory and Koretz, his opponent, has conceded.

Polls showed Bass, 69, as the front-runner since she entered the race in September 2021. The onetime community organizer served as California Assembly speaker and for the last 11 years has represented a South Los Angeles district in the House of Representatives.

Caruso, 63, was far behind when he first entered the race in February. But a record $100 million in spending, most of it Caruso’s own money, propelled him into the general election contest with Bass.

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The businessman built a fortune as the developer of retail complexes including the Grove and Americana at Brand. He previously served on commissions overseeing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Los Angeles Police Department.

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