With less than a week until election day in Los Angeles, voter polls show mayoral candidates U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire businessman Rick Caruso locked in a dead heat, even though Caruso is on track to spend more than $100 million on his campaign, compared to Bass’ $8 million.
Recently, Bass referred to Caruso as a “con” and she isn’t backing down from that view.
“The ‘con’ part of it is trying to create a new image of who he is, as a Democrat, just because he registered as a Democrat three weeks before starting his campaign,” Bass explained in an interview with TheWrap on Wednesday.
“He’s been a Republican, an independent, and a Democrat,” she continued. “He’s kind of bounced all over the place. That leaves you wondering, what are his values? I have been consistent on issues and what my values are, like the belief that a woman has a right to choose. He says he believes in a woman’s choice, but he is on record in L.A. Magazine that he does not. He feels that his money can kind of erase this. Like if he lies long enough, there is a certain percentage of voters who will believe him.”
(Reps for Caruso and his campaign have not responded to requests for an interview.)
The race has been called one of the most important mayoral elections in L.A. history, with the city dealing with a myriad of problems: rampant homelessness, a lack of affordable housing, crumbling infrastructure, water management issues, poor air quality, traffic congestion and crime.
Read on as Bass discussed her campaign for L.A. mayor, her history in local public service, and the current political mood in America.
What is it like running against an opponent spending $100 million on his campaign?
It just shows you that voters in L.A. are not being duped. L.A. is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. People do not want City Hall to be purchased, especially when we are dealing with an unprecedented level of corruption in politics.
Rick Caruso says he is not beholden to anyone. That means, by implication, that the only people who should run for office are people who are extremely wealthy. Think how many people could have been housed with that $100 million spent on creating a new Rick Caruso and denigrating me.
How do you feel about representing the entertainment industry?
I have tremendous support from the entertainment industry. I have worked with the industry for many years, and it’s part of my family history. My grandmother worked at the studios in 1932, for what is now Sony. She was an actress, and also a teacher for African-American children in the industry. Years before I ever thought about running for office, I was working to diversify the below-the-line crafts while I was on the board for Workplace Hollywood. When I got to Sacramento [in 2005 through 2010], I worked to get tax credits for the industry while I was Speaker of the House. In Washington D.C., I worked on piracy and copyright issues.
What about keeping filming projects here in L.A.?
Keeping filming in L.A. will be a major priority. I live in a neighborhood where it is a rare week that that there isn’t some kind of filming going on. We need to maintain that.
What can you do to address the huge problem of homelessness in L.A.?
My plan is to get people off the streets right away, and build on city-owned property. We will declare a state of emergency, and we will waive certain regulations and obstacles to get building completed more quickly.
Do you support Measure ULA [aka the “Mansion Tax]?
We absolutely need to have ongoing funding for the problem. I have not taken a position on that proposition. I do know that voters are wary in terms of ongoing funding. Because in the past, they are not sure that we’ve gotten enough bang for our buck.
With the recent attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, at their home in San Francisco, are you and other members of Congress concerned about political violence and threats to your own safety?
You better believe it. We all are. We have been worried since before Jan. 6. Then that just showed you how extreme the other side can get. The country really is polarized. This is directly linked back to four years of Donald Trump in office. He has lowered the standard for political discourse. For some, all you need is money, and you can just lie and lie, and a certain percentage of the people will believe you.
Any last thoughts for the citizens of L.A.?
Go to the polls and vote!
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