These days, $100 million just doesn't go as far as it once did. There was a time when that would have been more than enough to buy a mayoralty in California, or maybe even a governorship, but not anymore, it would seem. Despite investing that much of his own money (plus a few extra million on top), and reinventing himself as a resident of Pennsylvania... er, as a "Democrat," Rick Caruso has been defeated by Rep. Karen Bass (who actually is a Democrat). The Mayor-elect has 53.7% of the vote as opposed to 46.3% for her opponent with 81% reporting, and that's enough to declare her the winner.
As we have noted previously, Caruso was largely trying to re-create the success of Richard Riordan, a wealthy businessman who used his millions to mount a successful L.A. mayoral bid in 1993, and served 8 largely successful years in that office. However, he ran as the moderate Republican he was (and is), not as a newly minted Democrat. In addition, back when Riordan was first elected, people were really unhappy with the city government (especially the corrupt and overtly racist LAPD) and there was a massive "throw the bums out" sentiment. Finally, Riordan was and is a man of enormous personal integrity, whereas Caruso has some questionable business dealings in his past, and he ran some commercials this cycle that were dishonest to the point of being insulting to the viewer's intelligence. Even with $100 million to spend, Caruso would have needed to run a perfect campaign, and he just didn't do it. So, that money went for naught.
Bass becomes the first woman to be elected mayor of Los Angeles. She's also the first L.A. mayor in a long time (since Sam Yorty in the 1960s) to come to the job with experience in federal office. That could be good news for the city; normally the mayors come from the lower ranks of city leadership, such as the city council. Such people know the city well, but they tend to be well-ensconced in good ol' boys networks, and enter office well on the path to corrupt behavior. Bass has connections to the city, having represented parts of it in the state House and the U.S. House., but may be a little less beholden to certain local interests. It will be interesting to see.
Now that Bass has broken this particular glass ceiling, we wondered how many of America's ten largest cities still haven't had a woman as mayor. If you were wondering too, the answer is two: New York City and Philadelphia. About time for the Big Apple and the City of Brotherly Love to take care of business, we'd say. (Z)