Congresswoman edges out developer in L.A. mayoral seesaw race

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. Representative Karen Bass established a shaky lead Friday over developer Rick Caruso in their back-and-forth bid to become Los Angeles’ next mayor, with many ballots not counted and the outcome expected. at least until next week.

Returns released by the Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office showed Bass a 4,384 vote advantage over billionaire Caruso – or 50.4% to 49.6%. Earlier, Caruso held a slim lead over the congresswoman.

Nearly 40% of the ballots remained uncounted.

Bass, a progressive Democratic congresswoman, could become the first black woman to hold the position. Caruso, a Republican-turned-Democrat known for building high-end malls, would represent a shift to the political right for the liberal city of nearly 4 million and promises to expand the police department.

The election has historic dimensions, coming as the city council grapples with a racist scandal that led to the exit of its former president and calls for the resignation of two other members, an uncontrolled homelessness crisis, investigations on corruption and a widespread concern over crime that has ranged from daytime robberies on city sidewalks to robberies in luxury stores.

The favorite is Bass, a former state Assembly leader who has the advantage of being a longtime Democrat in a city where Republicans are almost invisible. She is backed by President Joe Biden and the Democratic establishment and has vowed to use her skills as a coalition builder to heal a wounded city.

Caruso is campaigning on an abrupt change in leadership, arguing that Bass and other longtime politicians are part of the problem that has led LA to multiple crises. Along with hiring more police, he promises to quickly remove the ubiquitous homeless encampments from the streets.

The winner will replace beleaguered Democrat Eric Garcetti, who will conclude two bumpy terms with his nomination for US ambassador to India stalled in the Senate, reportedly due to allegations of sexual misconduct against a former top Garcetti adviser.

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