A Former Republican Is Gaining In The LA Mayor’s Race — And Pollsters Think He Could Win

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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Rick Caruso, a real estate developer and former Republican, could beat Democratic California Rep. Karen Bass in the upcoming race for mayor of Los Angeles, according to several recent polls.

Bass was ahead of Caruso by four points in a Los Angeles Times poll Friday morning, but Caruso had a three-point lead over Bass in another poll two weeks earlier. Caruso’s unusually strong performance in the Democrat-dominated city comes amid widespread concerns about crime and homelessness.

Caruso changed his voter registration from Republican to no-party in 2012 while considering a mayoral run, and he registered as a Democrat in January. Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is not running for reelection because he has termed out.

LA Times pollster Justin Wallen said Caruso was performing surprisingly well in Los Angeles considering his Republican background and involvement in building luxury shopping malls. (RELATED: Soft-On-Crime LA Mayoral Candidate Making Massive Gains Among White Liberals: POLL)

“We’d expect him to be getting his butt kicked,” Wallen said. “He’s performing well because he’s talking about issues that matter.”

Bass beat Caruso in the June primary by seven points, though an April poll found a one-point lead for Caruso; the two have taken turns leading in the polls in the dead-heat race.

Bass has focused on social and economic justice and does not view increased policing as the answer to the city’s crime problem; she said community organizations and trained experts, rather than police, must be given resources to deal with crime’s root causes. Caruso’s campaign has focused heavily on crime and boasted about the considerable decline in crime during Caruso’s time on the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Los Angeles saw a historic surge in crime in 2021; rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and property crimes have risen steadily throughout the city from 2021 to 2022, according to official reports.

“You got to give Caruso, a lot of credit. He’s making big inroads into this segment, but they’re not regular voters,” said LA Times pollster Mark DiCamillo. “He’s making inroads where he didn’t have those inroads in June. … The whole question is, will it be enough? It’s definitely going to be close.”

Bass and Caruso did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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