Author: Joe

Karen Bass, City Hall’s Favorite Girl Politician, Wins

Karen Bass, City Hall's Favorite Girl Politician, Wins

Karen Bass drew more votes than any mayor candidate in L.A. history.

Before the primary election, I wrote a column on city councilwoman Karen Bass. That column, “Karen Bass, City Hall’s Favorite Girl Politician,” made Bass a media darling and a public favorite for a mayoral run. Her supporters came flocking — and not just from political newcomers, which was a good thing. She won my endorsement as her only campaign.

We know from election returns that Karen Bass beat her Republican opponent, Jim McKee, by a little over 2%, but the fact that “Karen Bass, City Hall’s Favorite Girl Politician” was her winning campaign was the news cycle at large. Bass, it seemed, was not a white, well-off, conservative Democrat. She was a black woman who had run for city clerk, but never on a serious campaign, and she had won that race by only about 5%. Bass ran on her “tough on crime” record as police chief, telling voters that her administration got things done, including solving two major gang-related murders. She also appealed to voters by suggesting that she was a friend to business, and that her “tough on business” record as city manager was the reason her campaign had received so many campaign contributions from the downtown business community and was why she had won as mayor. Her opponents, it was clear, were not “friends” to business, but instead were enemies to most business in L.A.

Bass ran in the general election as a third-party candidate — yet again, despite her “tough on crime” record as chief of police, she was supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties, with both parties throwing in money to help her win.

Bass was running in the general election against an incumbent, but she was still an unknown quantity. When election numbers came in, I couldn’t figure out how she had managed to win. To answer my own question, I examined the numbers, and found she’d won because she had raised more money. People gave her campaign $1.2 million, with some going as far as to give Bass more than $2 million. Yet when I looked at the campaign finance reports for every candidate running for the mayor’s job, I couldn’t find that many contributions from downtown business and industry. It was clear she had the backing of an almost entirely different set of political insiders than city councilwoman.

Bass also had more endorsements

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