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Obama backs Karen Bass for mayor of Los Angeles


Democratic car encirclement for Rep. Karen Bass is complete.

Former President Obama on Saturday endorsed the congresswoman in her bid to be the first woman and second black mayor of the second-largest city in the United States.

Her support helps lend weight to Bass’s campaign argument that she is the only true Democrat in the race and that her opponent, Rick Caruso, has become one out of political expediency.

This has been a central line of attack from Bass, who pointed out that his opponent was registered as a Republican as recently as 2019. Caruso said the GOP has changed and become too extreme and that’s why he has switched parties weeks before announcing his candidacy earlier. This year.

“I know Karine. She was with me supporting my campaign from the start, and Karen Bass will deliver results,” said former President Obama, who also recorded a robocall in support of Bass that will kick off on Sunday. “Make no mistake, there is only one proven pro-choice Democrat in this race, and Karen Bass has dedicated her life to serving her community.”

Along with the robocall and a digital video, Obama’s endorsement rounds out a slew of endorsements from national Democratic figures, including President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, both U.S. senators from California and the former Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton State.

It comes after a rally of nearly 2,000 people held Thursday night alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who remains an immensely popular figure among city progressives.

“I ask you over the next 12 days to work as hard as you can to elect Karen and other progressives,” he told the Playa Vista crowd. “But I’m asking you to come back the day after the election and keep fighting to make sure that in America we have the economic justice we deserve.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rallies around Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass after speaking at Playa Vista on Thursday.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Earlier this month, Bass appeared with Harris and Biden at back-to-back events. Since the primary, nearly every elected official in the city and state has endorsed it — but not Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is friends with both Caruso and Bass and has said he won’t approve of either. one nor the other. He also shares a team of political advisers with Caruso.

Mayor Eric Garcetti also stayed out of the fray, citing former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s decision not to endorse the 2013 mayoral race.

It’s unclear whether any of those mentions alone will make a difference in a contest, which appears to be tightening based on public and private polls reviewed by The Times.

The latest Times poll in September found that among registered voters who are Democrats, Bass leads by about 25 percentage points, and among likely voters who are registered Democrats, she leads by nearly 40 points.

“President Obama’s support underscores the contrast in this race and inspires our campaign as we share our plans to solve homelessness and make LA safer and more affordable for everyone on the home stretch,” Bass said.

Still, Obama’s endorsement comes as a bit of a surprise, if only because The Times reported several months ago that he was unlikely to run in a local election. Obama and Bass are “not particularly close,” a person close to Obama said in June, adding that he has not generally involved himself in races between Democrats “and would not expect to deviate in this circumstance. “.

In recent months, Obama’s political team had been observing the race and was in communication with former aides to the president and others who worked on his presidential campaigns and are now involved in the mayoral race, according to sources. sources familiar with the matter who declined to be named. to speak of private deliberations.

They include Doug Herman, who advises Bass, Larry Grisolano, who produces Bass’s paid media, and former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, who doesn’t work on the campaign but helped prepare for the debate. of Bass playing Caruso.

Obama has endorsed candidates in a number of high-profile Senate and gubernatorial races in recent weeks.

“I think anyone could see this race getting competitive and they pay attention to the races that matter,” said one of the sources familiar with the matter who declined to be named to discuss private deliberations. “My feeling is that the president didn’t want this race to be decided by who has the biggest checkbook.”


Los Angeles Times

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