Karen Bass

LOS ANGELES   - Rep. Karen Bass, who has represented Los Angeles at the state level and in Congress, will be the first woman and the second Black person to serve as the city's mayor, with the Associated Press projecting her to outlast developer Rick Caruso.

Caruso spent more than $100 million on his campaign -- much of it from his own fortune -- to propel him into contention. Caruso held the lead in the vote count after Election Day, but as updates slowly trickled in over the next week, Bass surpassed him and then gradually extended her lead.

According to updated vote totals released Wednesday from last week's election, Bass led Caruso by more than 46,500 votes, opening up a 53% to 47% advantage. The last six vote-counting updates after Election Day have all resulted in gains for Bass.

``This victory sends a clear message about the kind of Los Angeles we want and see for ourselves,'' said Mark Gonzalez, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. ``We've always said this race is about the soul of Los Angeles and voters clearly spoke up to reject an attempt to buy this race.''

The race tightened in the weeks before Election Day, with Caruso closing the gap in several polls after trailing by as many as double-digits among likely voters as late as October, according to a Los Angeles Times/UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll. Heading into Election Day, several experts described Bass as the favorite, though they were uncertain how much Caruso's spending would sway the race.

But Bass, who positioned herself as the authentic, pro-abortion rights Democrat in the race, won over an electorate that experts said favored her. Caruso was a Republican until 2019 and donated to anti-abortion politicians, allowing Bass to contrast herself as a ``lifelong, pro-choice Democrat'' in a city that leans heavily Democratic.

  ``Sometimes I feel like I can't love the city any more than I do, and then the people show up and do this!'' Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson wrote on Twitter. ``Congratulations Mayor Bass!''

   Bass was also endorsed by nearly every major figure in the Democratic Party, including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.

``People do vote the party line now more than ever, in this very hyper- polarized state we're in,'' Mindy Romero, director of USC's Center for Inclusive Democracy, said to City News Service.

   Bass inherits leadership of a city grappling with a scandal that has embroiled City Hall for the past month, after three council members and a top county labor official took part in a recorded conversation in October 2021 that included racist comments and attempts to manipulate redistricting.

Combined with concerns over homelessness, crime, quality of life and cost of living, ``people are just the most pessimistic I've seen Angelenos in basically a decade and a half -- since the Great Recession,'' according to Guerra.

Bass, 69, grew up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement with three brothers in the Venice and Fairfax neighborhoods. She was drawn to community activism after watching the movement on television, volunteering for Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaign when she was 14.

Her organizing career began in 1990, when she founded Community Coalition, a South Los Angeles social justice group in response to the crack cocaine crisis.

In 2004, Bass was the only Black woman in the state Legislature when she was elected to the state Assembly. Four years later, she became the first Black woman to lead the chamber. Bass was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010.

Bass was considered by Biden to serve as his running mate when he was running for the presidency in 2020, a position that eventually went to Harris.