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Bass ‘on track to win’ L.A. mayor’s race as lead grows to more than 29,000 votes

L.A. mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.
(Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass moved closer to victory in the still-undecided Los Angeles mayor’s race Monday, with an updated vote tally showing the congresswoman leading real estate developer Rick Caruso by more than 4 percentage points nearly a week after polls closed.

The results are not yet definitive, and thousands of votes probably remain to be counted. But the latest release saw Bass continue to build her lead, with experts saying they struggled to see a path for Caruso to make up the ground ceded to Bass over the last several days of results.

She would be the first woman elected mayor of Los Angeles and only the second Black Angeleno to lead the city.

Bass now holds a 52.15% to 47.85% lead, or 29,271 votes, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office. Monday’s update heavily favored Bass, with the congresswoman taking in 63% of the more than 76,100 newly counted ballots. Votes cast in the city of Los Angeles accounted for about 40% of the latest tranche, which included 191,312 ballots in total.

“These results mean Karen Bass is on track to win the mayoralty of Los Angeles,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. “For Caruso to win, he would not only have to reverse this trend, but reverse it dramatically, winning the same percentage of votes she has recently taken. There has been no indication to believe he can do that.”

Although Caruso held a slight edge after election night, Bass has outpaced him in every batch of results released since. The registrar-recorder’s office estimated Monday that 655,300 ballots from across the county remain to be counted, with city ballots making up an undetermined number of that total.

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How come the count in the race for mayor between Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso is taking so long? And how does the process work? We’ve got answers.

Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Center for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said the vote totals appeared “to be moving in kind of an irrevocable direction” in Bass’ favor.

Paul Mitchell, a Democratic strategist and expert in voting patterns, said Monday that he couldn’t see a path to victory for Caruso based on the information currently available.

“The information we have now is that these are all late ballots, they’re geographically distributed throughout the city, and there’s no reason to suggest that the next batch of ballots is going to be any different than the batch of ballots we just saw,” aside from marginal differences, Mitchell said.

At this point, “closing that gap would mean some astounding flip in these numbers, and there’s not really an intellectually credible reason to suggest why that could happen,” Mitchell said.

“I am honored and grateful for the support we are continuing to see. I am optimistic and looking forward to the next update,” Bass said in a statement. She was in Washington on congressional business Monday, according to her campaign.

Caruso did not immediately comment on the latest results.

Election reforms that went into effect in 2020 shifted the city’s election calendar from odd to even years, syncing up local races with state and national elections. The move was intended to increase voter participation, and the Nov. 8 election has already delivered on that goal, driving more voters to the polls than any election since Tom Bradley defeated Sam Yorty to become mayor in 1973.

The 2022 election is on track to easily exceed the 788,000 votes cast that year. Los Angeles had more than 1 million fewer residents in 1973 than it has today.

Bass has already received more votes than any mayoral candidate since Bradley became the city’s first Black mayor. She almost certainly will pass that mark, and possibly also the all-time high in a mayoral race — the 449,572 votes Yorty received in 1969 when he defeated Bradley in their first showdown.

Turnout for L.A. mayoral elections peaked in the 1969 race at a record 76% and has somewhat steadily declined in the decades since, until this year.

Results in most other races did not substantially change in the tallies released Monday.

Lindsey Horvath, a West Hollywood City Council member, saw her lead over state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) grow by more than 7,000 votes in the race for L.A. County supervisor in the 3rd District. Horvath now leads Hertzberg 51.19% to 48.81%.

In the race for L.A. County sheriff, former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna saw his dramatic margin over incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva continue to expand, with Luna now leading 59.84% to 40.16%.

In the City Council race to succeed Mike Bonin and represent his coastal district, attorney Erin Darling continued to cut slightly into attorney Traci Park’s margin, though Park still holds a more than 7-point edge over Darling, with 53.71% of the vote to his 46.29%.

In the battle to represent a Glassell Park-to-Hollywood seat, incumbent Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell remained deeply vulnerable, with labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez growing his lead to a more than 9 points, with 54.57% of the vote to O’Farrell’s 45.43%.


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