Karen Bass expected to be first female mayor of Los Angeles, AP projects

Karen Bass is expected to be Los Angeles' next mayor, the Associated Press projects.

The projected winner's announcement came just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, after the latest results from LA County's registrar-recorder's office had Bass holding 53.06% of votes, with Rick Caruso garnering 46.94%.

The two candidates were locked in a tie as votes were counted from Election Day. Caruso was initially leading Bass for several days. Numbers released by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk on Nov. 10 showed Caruso leading Bass by just over 2,000 votes, with 1,452,192 ballots counted. But by Nov. 14, Bass had expanded her lead by having more than 29,000 votes over Caruso. 

Bass will become the first female mayor of Los Angeles, and the second Black person to hold office. 

Following her victory Bass released the following statement, "This evening, I received a gracious call from Rick Caruso, who is someone who I hope continues his civic participation in the city that we both love. I have great respect for his commitment to serving the people of Los Angeles.  The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: it is time for change and it is time for urgency.  This is the city where I was born. It's the city where my mother and my father raised me and my three brothers. It's the city where I raised my children and where my children are raising their children -- with Emilia and Michael always in our hearts."

Rick Caruso released a statement also saying, "This campaign has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am so proud of my campaign. We held true to the core values of our family – integrity, honesty, and respect for all. While we came up short in the count, we made an indelible impact on this city and its people that will last far beyond the campaign trail or Election Day."

Bass held a comfortable lead in the polls just a month ago, but recent surveys ahead of Election Day show that Caruso has closed the gap considerably. Bass led Caruso 45% to 41% in a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted from Oct. 25-31 — co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times — with the gap within the margin of error. A Southern California News Group poll from Oct. 15-17 found a 3-point lead for Caruso, which was also within the margin of error.

Crime and homelessness have been the top issues facing voters in LA. 

During the campaign, Bass said she would declare homelessness a local state of emergency on day one. She plans to house 15,000 people by the end of her first year, as well as build more temporary, affordable, and permanent housing. Her goals also include ending street encampments, reduce homelessness and focus on mental health and substance abuse services.  

Bass’ take on crime focuses on crime prevention and building safer communities. During a FOX 11 debate, she said her focus is to prevent crime from even happening. In early September, Bass' home was broken into, and two guns were stolen. Bass called the incident "very traumatic" and said her sense of safety was shattered. Over the years, Bass had supported bills to get illegal guns off the streets and with the recent break-in, some Angelenos were surprised she owned guns.

She says as mayor, she would launch the Office of Community Safety to help create stronger communities and build relationships between the public and private sectors, that she says in time will help prevent crime. 

Bass' campaign has also highlighted her work as an activist before holding elected office. In 1990, she founded the nonprofit Community Coalition, with the goal of transforming social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles.

Arnulfo De La Cruz, the Executive Vice President of SEIU 2015, expressed his support for Bass in an interview with Fox 11.  

"It's absolutely incredible and historic and I think on behalf of the 180,000 caregivers across LA, this is a historic night. You may say Karen was expected to win the whole time. I think we would say that's not the narrative we believed in. She was outspent on this campaign and I think it speaks to the strength of her as an individual, and her campaign and really I think the values and issues that she ran on," said De La Cruz.

De La Cruz said Karen's campaign resonated with union members.

"We're a union that represents majority women, majority women of color who every day care for others and I think the things that Karen was talking about really resonated with the members of SEIU 2015, the ability to work in Los Angeles and earn a living wage, to receive quality care, and affordable housing," he said.

The SEIU 2015 released the following statement:

SEIU Local 2015 is thrilled that the City of Los Angeles has elected Karen Bass to be our Mayor. Karen Bass has represented the people of Los Angeles in Congress for more than ten years, fighting for economic equity, criminal justice reform, environmental advocacy, fair working conditions, and unity—all central to building a just society. She has proved time and again that she has the best interest of our community at heart. SEIU Local 2015 was a proud early endorser of Karen Bass for Mayor of Los Angeles. We believe that Congresswoman Bass will continue to uphold pro-worker values in the City of Los Angeles and fight for quality care for our communities’ most vulnerable.

Bass was endorsed by top political leaders including President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders. 

She is a six-term U.S. Congresswoman, represents California's 37th congressional district, is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was on then-President elect Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president.