By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne
Following more than a week of counting ballots and tabulating votes, U.S. Rep Karen Bass was finally projected to win the Los Angeles mayor race and become the first Black woman to ever serve in that role. In fact, Bass is also now the first woman period to ever be elected mayor of Los Angeles.
The Associated Press called the race on Wednesday night with more than 70% of the votes counted as it became apparent that the electoral math wasn’t in the favor of Bass’ billionaire opponent, Caruso.
Mayor-elect Bass “amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes,” the AP reported. “She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%.”
The election was hailed in part as a victory for women.
“Karen Bass’ victory is important to the people of Los Angeles because she is one of us,” Emiliana Guereca, Founder and President of Women’s March Action, said in a statement emailed to NewsOne after the election results were announced. “She will fight for women’s rights, build bridges, help house the homeless, secure federal dollars and bring fresh energy to City Hall. She is going to be a great role model and will make us proud.”
Last week’s election served as a runoff months after neither Bass nor Caruso eclipsed the 50% mark during the primary in June.
At the time, Bass said she was confident of her chances in November and accurately predicted, “we are going to win.”
Bass, a sitting U.S. Congresswoman who has served California’s 37th Congressional District, which includes Los Angeles, since 2010. But she began gearing up for her mayoral run last year and suggested at the time that she was the right person to address Los Angeles’ “humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis” from the pandemic.
Caruso, a wealthy real estate developer who similarly ran on a platform that promised to “clean up” homelessness in Los Angeles, where Black people make up 34% of the city’s homeless population, also placed a heavy emphasis on policing.
In a memorable moment during the campaign, Caruso rejected the notion that he is “a white man” during a debate against Bass last month. Caruso claimed his “Latin” heritage as an Italian precludes him from being described as “a white man.”
Caruso is, of course, a white man.
The victory for Bass — a 69-year-old native Angeleno who Joe Biden seriously considered to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2020 — makes her the latest inductee into a growing club of Black mayors of major cities who have been elected in recent years, at least 11 of whom were sworn in this year alone. She will also become the second-ever Black mayor of the city. Tom Bradley served as Los Angeles’ first Black Mayor from 1973-1993.
The current Mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to leave office because of term limits.
Prior to running for mayor, Bass was a core member of the bipartisan Congressional group leading the efforts on a police reform bill. The former Congressional Black Caucus chair has also been an ardent advocate for voting rights particularly for Black people.