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Outspent 11 to 1, Karen Bass Still Defeated a Billionaire to Become LA’s Mayor

Bass, a six-term Democratic U.S. congresswoman, will become the first woman to lead the country’s second-largest city.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass is pictured during election night at the Palladium in Hollywood, California, on November 8, 2022.

Karen Bass on Wednesday was projected the winner of Los Angeles’ mayoral race, defeating billionaire developer Rick Caruso, a former Republican who outspent the Democratic U.S. congresswoman by 11-to-1 while enlisting the aid of Hollywood A-listers including Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kim Kardashian.

Bass, who will become the first woman to lead the country’s second-largest city, was leading Caruso by more than 46,000 votes on Wednesday afternoon with just under 75% of ballots counted, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Our campaign was people-powered by thousands of volunteers, sending a message that we are committed to solutions for homelessness, public safety, and affordability in every neighborhood and for every community,” the 69-year-old former state Assembly speaker and six-term U.S. congresswoman tweeted earlier this week.

Caruso spent more than $100 million of his own money on his failed campaign, which tried to capitalize on Angelenos’ frustrations with crime and homelessness. The 63-year-old had promised to hire a record number of police officers and to find temporary housing for 30,000 of the city’s nearly 70,000 unhoused residents in his first 300 days in office.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called Bass’ victory the “best news of the week.”

“As someone who has both worked closely and admired from afar, I know she will be leading the city that raised her with love and compassion,” Omar tweeted. “Congratulations Karen Bass, I am going to miss you enormously but I will forever be grateful for your membership.”

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) also congratulated Bass, hailing her “hard-earned and historic victory.”

Women’s March Action issued a statement cheering Bass’ election, calling her “one of us.”

“She will fight for women’s rights, build bridges, help house the homeless, secure federal dollars, and bring fresh energy to City Hall,” the group said. “She is going to be a great role model and will make us proud.”

Bass will take office during turbulent times in the California city of 4 million people beset by rampant inequality and its manifestations, including rising crime and an unhoused population greater than the combined populations of two neighboring cities, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Born in South L.A., raised in the Venice-Fairfax area, and now a longtime resident of Baldwin Hills, Bass has spent her life deeply rooted in Los Angeles. Her social justice ideals have taken her from a county emergency room to nonprofit leadership and, ultimately, the halls of power in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

That journey includes eight trips to Cuba as a member and organizer of the Venceremos Brigade, a work and culture program founded by the campus activist group Students for a Democratic Society and Fidel Castro’s government to promote solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.

While Caruso’s impressive lineup of celebrity endorsements drew national attention, Bass had plenty of Hollywood backers too, including Ariana Grande, Norman Lear, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, J.J. Abrams, Yvette Nicole Brown, Steven Spielberg, Common, Mark Hamill, Kerry Washington, Magic Johnson, Danny Trejo, Rosario Dawson, and John Legend.

“Congratulations to our mayor-elect!” Legend tweeted in response to Bass’ victory. “Angelenos chose someone who has devoted her life to helping her community become healthier, safer, and more just.”

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