As voters in Los Angeles, the nation’s second most populous city, head to the polls on Tuesday to choose their next mayor, the issue of crime is playing a supersized role in the election.
And one of the front-runners in the race tells Fox News that when it comes to making the streets of Los Angeles safer, “I think the right answer is to be smart on crime.”
In an interview on the eve of the primary, longtime Democratic Rep. Karen Bass highlighted that “my plan calls for getting officers on the beat immediately in neighborhoods that want to see an increased police presence. But I believe the quickest way to get officers on the beat is to get them from behind the desk.”
Bass, a former state lawmaker who’s spent the last decade representing a congressional district that covers areas south and west of downtown Los Angeles, added that she’s “calling for hiring civilians so those officers can be on the beat. But I’m also calling for hiring some 200-400 officers…I also believe in making a serious investment in crime prevention.”
The latest public opinion poll in the race indicated Bass with a single-digit advantage over Rick Caruso, a pro-business billionaire developer who’s running a law-and-order campaign for mayor.
Caruso, a former Republican who became a Democrat just before launching his mayoral bid, and who’s dished out nearly $40 million of his own money to finance his campaign, is one of the two leading contenders to steer an overwhelmingly Democratic city that hasn’t seen a Republican mayor in over two decades.
If neither candidate tops 50% in Tuesday’s primary, they’ll both face off in November, with the winner succeeding term-limited Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose nomination by Biden to serve as U.S. ambassador to India is currently stalled.
While crime is a top issue, so’s the economy.
Bass told Fox News that “the gap between rich and poor is very, very large and the middle class is being squeezed out of existence. And so jobs and especially supporting small and large businesses is absolutely key to my plan for the local economy.”
Bass, who was considered to be on now President Biden’s short list for a running mate in the 2020 election, is backed by many in the city’s Democratic establishment, as well as fellow Californian House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the number three ranking Democrat in the chamber. She also is supported by some big Hollywood names – among them Steven Spielberg, filmmaker J.J. Abrams and actress Jennifer Garner.
Caruso was recently endorsed by Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk. And he has his share of backing from the entertainment world – including actress and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian and rapper Snoop Dogg.
The new poll, conducted by the University of California-Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times, indicated Caruso making gains with Black and Latino male voters.
Asked about the survey, Bass said, “I’m not sure how accurate it is… what my understanding is, is that the sample size of African Americans in that poll in general – men and women – was very, very small.”
And she touted, “I think I have tremendous support among African American men. In the faith community, community leaders, voters, etcetera.”
Bass had to cut the interview short to attend a campaign event.
She explained that “we’re doing our last-minute push to increase the turnout tomorrow… we’ve very excited.”