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Republican turned Democrat billionaire developer Rick Caruso says he’s not concerned if his Los Angeles mayoral rival Democratic Rep. Karen Bass and her allies keep spotlighting his GOP past as the two Democratic candidates face off against each other in November’s runoff election.
“Nobody cares about personal attacks against me,” Caruso told Fox News on Wednesday, the day after primary day in California.
Caruso, who ran a law-and-order campaign and pledged to immediately tackle rising crime and homelessness in the nation’s second most populous city, advanced to the runoff along with Bass, a former state lawmaker who’s spent the past decade representing a U.S. congressional district located west and south of downtown Los Angeles.
Bass and an outside group allied with the congresswoman, who was on the shortlist to be President Biden’s running mate in 2020, in recent weeks went up with ads linking Caruso to former President Donald Trump, who remains very unpopular in Los Angeles.
Rick Caruso, a Democratic candidate for mayor, celebrates at his primary-night gathering in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
“What do we know about Rick Caruso?” asked the narrator in a Bass campaign commercial. “We know he was a registered Republican for decades and not just any kind of Republican. Caruso served as a senior adviser to President Trump.“
That ad – and a similar one from the allied group – are likely just a taste of things to come between now and November.
But Caruso, a member of the board of the Ronald Reagan Library Foundation, discounted such attacks and noted, “I’m winning in the polls.”
According to unofficial results, with roughly half the vote tabulated, Caruso held a five-point lead over Bass. But since neither topped 50% in the crowded field of candidates, they advanced to the November showdown. The winner will succeed term-limited Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose nomination by Biden to serve as U.S. ambassador to India is currently stalled.
Caruso told Fox News, “I don’t have to say anything negative about Congresswoman Bass,” but then went on take a jab at his rival, saying “all you have to do is look at her record.”
Rep. Karen Bass speaks during her election night party Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John McCoy)
“People are tired of the same old corrupt politicians who deliver the same results year after year, which is why Los Angeles has such problems of homelessness, crime and unemployment,” he argued. “I am confident that, under my leadership, I can put together the right team to solve the issues that are plaguing this great city that I love.”
Caruso, who ran as an outsider and who dished out tens of millions of his own money to flood Los Angeles with campaign commercials, highlighted that “we have got to fix the crime problem in Los Angeles, and I have the law enforcement background to do it. I was the former president of the Board of Police Commissioners. This is not a time for on-the-job training.”
Asked about the skepticism surrounding his campaign pledge to add 1,500 addition police officers to the city’s force, he explained, “We aren’t going to hire all of them at once and we are currently down 500 officers. We also have an $11 billion budget that is being wasted, and also I know that President Biden is also looking to spend federal dollars to put more officers on the street.”
And in the wake of Tuesday’s recall of San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, he reiterated his support for the push to recall the Los Angeles district attorney, who’s also a champion of criminal justice reform.
“Americans are sick of rising crime and the corrupt politicians who don’t have any solutions to fix it. San Francisco’s District Attorney Boudin deserved to be recalled and if I am elected mayor of Los Angeles, I will continue to support the recall of our District Attorney George Gascon,” he said.