Nine candidates running in Los Angeles’ mayoral primary election

Nine candidates are running in the June 7, 2022, primary for mayor of Los Angeles, California. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) could not run for re-election due to term limits.

Karen Bass (D) and Rick Caruso (D) have led the field in media coverage and fundraising. Though the election is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are registered Democrats. Caruso announced he changed his party registration from no party preference to Democrat in January 2022. Bass has held elected office as a Democrat since 2005.

Bass was first elected to public office in 2004 to serve in the California State Assembly. She served in the Assembly from 2005 to 2010 and was speaker from 2008 to 2010. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and currently represents California’s 37th Congressional District. In a campaign ad, Bass said, “I’m running for mayor to meet today’s challenges: crime, homelessness, and the soaring cost of housing.”

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He has also served on Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power Commission, as the president of Los Angeles’ Police Commission, and on the USC Board of Trustees. In a campaign ad, Caruso said, “I’m running for mayor because the city we love is in a state of emergency: rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety, and politicians at city hall just in it for themselves.”

Public safety has been a top issue in the race. A Caruso campaign ad said, “As Police Commission president, [Caruso] took on city hall politicians and cut crime 30%. As mayor, Caruso won’t defund the police. He’ll invest in making L.A. safer with 1,500 new officers, increase youth crime prevention, and crack down on illegal guns and retail theft.” 

Bass said she would hire police officers and civilian workers in police departments to add at least 250 officers to patrol, invest in programs to address causes of crime, and establish an Office of Community Safety “to develop a neighborhood-specific strategy to re-envision public safety, and ensure that the needs of individual communities are met.”

Craig Greiwe, Alex Gruenenfelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de León are also running in the primary. Joe Buscaino unofficially withdrew from the race on May 12 and endorsed Caruso, Mike Feuer unofficially withdrew on May 17 and endorsed Bass, and Ramit Varma unofficially withdrew on May 23 and endorsed Caruso. Buscaino, Feuer, and Varma will still appear on the primary ballot.

A candidate can win the election outright with more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November 8 general election. Since 1933, every open election for Los Angeles mayor has advanced to a general election. Heading into the election, the last time a candidate won an open election for mayor outright in the primary was in 1929. 

This is the first even-year election for Los Angeles mayor since the 2015 passage of Charter Amendment 1, which shifted city elections to even-numbered years beginning in 2020.