Wed, Jul

Could Caruso or Bass Be One And Done?


DEEGAN ON LA—Without “force majeure”—an act of God for which no party can be held accountable—Rick Caruso may not be a loser in the June 7 Primary race for Mayor.

Karen Bass may not either. Both appear to have insurmountable leads ahead of the rest of the candidates. The only question is about their margins. 

Will they go into a run-off on November 7, or will one of the mayoral candidates start assembling their administration on June 8 like some of the council district races that are races of just two candidates each?  Or, will the rest of the mayoral candidates draw enough votes to deny anybody a 51% majority? 

Vegas doesn’t post the odds, but prediction markets are slightly favoring Karen Bass, while essentially dismissing all other contenders except Caruso. But, it’s still early: in politics 24 hours is a long time, and the Primary is still six weeks away, even though vote-by-mail ballots are starting to accrue. 

The former Congressperson has been a political fixture in Los Angeles for decades, representing parts of the city in Sacramento and Washington. Many voters know and support her.

Caruso has become one of the top two most likely winners of the June Primary. If he can turn his surge into a tsunami he may walk away as the sole winner on June 7. 

It’s possible that one of them could have a Primary victory by capturing 51% of the votes, and become the mayor-elect. If that happens, it’s not just Bass or Caruso but the voters of Los Angeles, the referees in this fight, that will be the losers. 

Ask any fan of the sweet science if they like a first round knockout, or a boxing match that goes the distance? Most would say they want their money’s worth that a full 12-round match provides. 

The political analog to hooks and jabs is a vote. Before casting it, many people like to see a fully fought match right up until a November general election. This allows months and months of sparring between the top two candidates that will reveal much more about each than we know today. 

The tale of the tape is simple: outsider Caruso against insider Bass. Centrist Caruso versus left-leaning Bass. Homelessness and Public Safety are mentioned as the leading issues.

However, homelessness is intractable. Dozens of politicos and billions of dollars, over many years, haven’t made a dent in the problem. All the candidates have to offer is more rhetoric; no candidate can do more than dream of success here. The wedge issue, the fresh and emotional concern that touches home for many, may be law and order and who is most qualified to help making the city feel safe. 

The best outcome of the June 7 fight is for the two candidates that win the undercard to return to their corners and come out swinging for the main event on November 7.

(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose Deegan on LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appear in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at [email protected].)

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