December 2, 2021

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Rep. Karen Bass reportedly will enter 2022 open seat race for mayor of Los Angeles


Bass has the opportunity to again make history as the first woman elected to lead Los Angeles and the city’s second African American mayor following the legendary Tom Bradley. Still, she would need to get past several opponents first. City Attorney Mike Feuer, City Councilman Joe Buscaino, and real estate broker Mel Wilson have been running for a while, while Central City Association head Jessica Lall and City Councilman Kevin de León each announced over the last week. The field could expand further, as real estate developer Rick Caruso and former L.A. Unified schools Superintendent Austin Beutner are also thinking about getting in.

All the candidates will face off in next June’s nonpartisan primary. A general election would be held in November in the very likely event that no one takes a majority in the first round. An early August survey from FM3, which was conducted on behalf of an unidentified client, showed Bass leading a hypothetical field with 22% while no other names topped 6%, but the rest of the field has time to get their names out. Indeed, Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reports that Buscaino has already reserved $2 million in TV time; Cadelago also says the councilman has raised $1 million for his proposed June local ballot initiative to ban homeless encampments in public areas.

Bass’ departure from the House would also set off an uncertain race to succeed her in Congress. The 37th District, which includes South Los Angeles, Crenshaw, and West Los Angeles, backed Biden 84-14. California is losing a House seat, though, and no one knows what the new map will look like once the independent redistricting committee is done with its work. 

While it’s rare for House members to choose not to run for re-election in order to run for mayor at home, especially since many big-city mayoral races take place in odd-numbered years, it’s hardly unheard of. The last person to try this was fellow California Democrat Bob Filner, elected mayor of San Diego in 2012. (Filner’s career imploded the following year after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.) 

Three of Bass’ other home-state colleagues have recently given up their seats to run for a place on their county board of supervisors, with mixed results. Gloria Negrete McLeod unsuccessfully campaigned for a seat on the San Bernardino County board in 2014, but fellow Democrat Janice Hahn won a spot on its counterpart body in Los Angeles County two years later. Republican Paul Cook went on to successfully run in 2020 for this job back in San Bernardino County.


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