U.S. Representative Karen Bass overtook businessman Rick Caruso in the up and down battle to become mayor of Los Angeles, Friday’s tally showing veteran lawmaker 4,384 votes ahead of the real estate developer in a contest that won’t be settled next week at the earliest.
New totals from county election officials gave Bass a fractional lead, 50.38% to 49.62%, for the first time since Caruso took a slight advantage in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Bass has now beaten Caruso in the last two updates from the LA County Clerk’s Office/County Clerk.
Heading into Friday, Caruso held a narrow lead of half a percentage point, or 2,695 votes. The fourth head change in less than 72 hours tended to confirm pre-election predictions that a winner may not be known for a week or more after election day last Tuesday.
With only about 30,000 votes added to the mayor’s scorecard on Friday, Caruso supporters cautioned against reading the new totals too high. But Bass supporters appeared buoyant that, despite modest overall numbers, their candidate had won 60% of the votes revealed since Thursday.
Independent analysts suggest there are at least 300,000 ballots left to count, the vast majority of them being mail-outs. Bass fired from behind in the vote tally in the June primary based on mail-in votes and new totals this week – with the MP winning 60% of the total of 82,510 new votes over two days – suggested a possible repeat of this model.
“Give me one more [vote batch] like those last two and it will officially be a trend,” said Paul Mitchell, an expert on voting habits who has followed the Los Angeles election closely. “It’s getting harder and harder for Caruso to recover, and it’s hard to come up with an intellectually credible rationale for why these polls should start changing course.”
Bass, who would be the first female mayor in Los Angeles’ nearly 250-year history, hasn’t made a public appearance since election night. That’s in stark contrast to Caruso, who took part in a Veterans Day parade in the Northeast Valley after visiting Langer’s Deli west of downtown on Wednesday.
The new frontrunner’s campaign manager, Jenny Dellwood, said the Bass team “continues to feel good about the numbers, and Karen is optimistic and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work”.
In the race for Los Angeles County Supervisor in the Third District, West Hollywood City Councilman Lindsey Horvath also took a narrow lead with new vote totals on Friday. Her 670-vote edge over State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), if held, would keep the five-member board all-female.
“I am so grateful to the voters of District 3 for their trust and support,” Horvath said in a statement. “We are confident that when every vote is counted and certified, we will win this race and bring much-needed change to LA County.”
The two would-be mayors have presented a contrasting study since voting ended on Tuesday: Bass cowering with his family and staff members and Caruso spending at least part of his day presenting himself to Angelenos as a kind of mayor-in-waiting.
The 63-year-old mall developer tucked into a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s on Wednesday. He took part in a Veterans Day parade on Friday, waving to the crowd with his golden retriever Hudson and sharing a brief greeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was in the parade and still a month in office.
Bass has not been seen by the press since her election night speech and has been relatively quiet about her opponent. The veteran House member “has caught up with his personal life and spent time with his family,” spokeswoman Sarah Leonard Sheahan said. “Today she hosted a lunch for her staff to express her gratitude.”
Sheahan declined to comment on Friday’s results. When Caruso’s margin narrowed on Thursday, Sheahan said in an emailed statement that the campaign was convinced that Bass would win.
On Friday, hours before the latest tally was released, Caruso stood on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, greeting veterans participating in the parade and posing for photos with fans who approached the mayoral candidate.
“It’s exactly what we expected,” Caruso said. “We will go up and down as these ballots are counted. … We’re going to be on a roller coaster for a while. But I am very optimistic.
Caruso’s interview with reporters was cut short when Garcetti passed by, dressed in his Naval Reserve uniform and seated in the back of a convertible as it raced down Laurel Canyon.
“Look who it is!” said Caruso, stepping forward to shake hands with the mayor.
Meanwhile, in other races, City Attorney candidate Hydee Feldstein Soto continued to lead attorney Faisal Gill. Feldstein Soto has 57.7% of the vote, compared to 42.2% for Gill, according to Friday’s results.
In the city council’s race for a Glassell Park seat in Hollywood, labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez maintained his advantage over councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who is seeking a third term. Soto-Martinez leads 53.3% to O’Farrell’s 46.7%.
On the West Side, Traci Park maintained a 9 percentage point lead over attorney Erin Darling in the race to succeed City Councilman Mike Bonin.
In the race to replace Councilman Paul Koretz for a Fairfax seat in Bel-Air, political aide Katy Young Yaroslavsky continued to lead attorney Sam Yebri, 57% to 42.9%.
Lawyer Tim McOsker also maintained a significant lead over ward council member Danielle Sandoval, with McOsker at 65.4% and Sandoval at 34.6%.
In the City Controller race, accountant Kenneth Mejia is about to be declared the official winner. Rival Koretz conceded earlier in the week.
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