TagMayoral elections

Karen Bass, Rick Caruso advance to general in Los Angeles mayoral election

Karen Bass and Rick Caruso advanced from the nonpartisan primary for mayor of Los Angeles, California, on June 7, 2022. Since neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote, the two will participate in a November 8 general election. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti could not run for re-election due to term limits. Since 1933, every open election for Los Angeles mayor has advanced to a general election.

At the time the race was called, Caruso had received 41% of the vote and Bass had received 38%.

The New York Times’ Jennifer Medina wrote that the race “has focused on voters’ worries about public safety and homelessness in the nation’s second-largest city” and could “become a test of whether voters this year favor an experienced politician who has spent nearly two decades in government or an outsider running on his business credentials.”

Speaking to Axios, Caruso Senior Advisor Peter Ragone said, “Los Angeles is in a crisis: Homeless, crime and corruption are uncontrolled. This is a moment for someone like Rick to come in and clean up City Hall.” Bass spokeswoman Anna Bahr said, “Voters have a choice in this race — between a billionaire real estate developer who has never built a single unit of affordable housing despite 50,000 people living on our streets, and a Black community organizer who has spent her life running toward this city’s crises and solving them.”

Regarding public safety, 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 invest in programs to address causes of crime, 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,” and hire police officers and civilian workers in police departments to add 250 officers to patrol.

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He 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.

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.

Craig Greiwe, Alex Gruenenfelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de León also ran 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 still appeared on the primary ballot.

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.



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.



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.



Twenty-four top 100 cities holding mayoral elections in 2022

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population are holding mayoral elections in 2022. In 15 of those cities, the incumbent is a Democrat. Five incumbents are Republicans, one is independent, and three are nonpartisan.

Two of those cities hold partisan elections, and the rest hold nonpartisan elections. In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Currently, the partisan breakdown of the mayors of the top 100 cities is 62 Democrats, 26 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans. One mayor has not responded to inquiries about his partisan affiliation.

In 2021, 28 of the top 100 cities held mayoral elections, and two offices changed partisan control: one as a result of an election, and one as the result of a mayor switching parties. Once mayors elected in 2021 assumed office, the mayors of 63 of the country’s 100 largest cities were affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 were Republicans, four were independent, six were nonpartisan, and one was unknown. Ahead of the 2022 election cycle, Ballotpedia updated our list of top 100 cities based on data from the 2020 census, swapping out Birmingham, Alabama, which had a Democratic mayor at the time, and San Bernardino, California, with a Republican mayor, for Santa Clarita, California, with a Republican mayor, and Spokane, Washington, with a nonpartisan mayor.

Ballotpedia provides comprehensive coverage of elections on the ballot in America’s 100 largest cities by population each year, along with elections in counties that overlap with them. We also cover elections for mayors, city council members, and district attorneys in each state capital. Eleven state capitals are holding mayoral elections in 2022, including eight capitals that fall outside of the top 100 cities. In nine of those 11 capitals, the incumbent is a Democrat, and two incumbents are Republicans.



Previewing Milwaukee’s April 5 special mayoral election

The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is holding a special general election for mayor on April 5, 2022. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Robert Donovan advanced from a February 15 primary with 42% and 22% of the vote, respectively. Seven candidates ran.

The special election was called after Mayor Tom Barrett resigned on Dec. 22, 2021, to become the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Corrinne Hess wrote the special election “could mean a historic change for Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s largest city could have its first elected Black mayor, or with Donovan, have a conservative leader for the first time.”

The office is officially nonpartisan. Johnson said he is a Democrat. When Donovan ran for mayor in 2016, a campaign spokesman described him as independent. When asked in February 2022 if he thought Milwaukee would elect a conservative mayor, Donovan said, “I think the times are to the point where people are open to looking at some changes.”

Johnson first joined the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016 and was elected council president by his peers in 2020. Johnson says he has personally experienced the city’s struggles with violence and crime. Johnson emphasizes his public safety plan, which he says is comprehensive and includes measures to prevent violence. Johnson said he led on securing funds for 200 additional police officers. He criticized Donovan’s public safety plan as being outdated.

Donovan served on the council from 2000 to 2020. He lost the 2016 mayoral election to Barrett 30% to 70%. Donovan has discussed his 20 years on the council and his past chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and the Anti-Graffiti Policy Committee. Donovan has highlighted his public safety plan, including increasing police staffing and foot and bicycle patrols, and criticized Johnson by saying the city experienced its worst bout of violence during Johnson’s time as council president.

The city charter states the council president serves as acting mayor in the event of a vacancy.

Ballotpedia is covering 32 mayoral elections in 2022—24 in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and eight in state capitals falling outside the 100 largest cities. At the start of this year, 62 of the 100 largest cities’ mayors were Democrats, 26 were Republicans, and 11 were independent or nonpartisan. One mayor’s affiliation was unknown.

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Incumbent David Holt wins Oklahoma City mayoral election

The nonpartisan mayoral election for Oklahoma City, Okla., was held on Feb. 8. The candidate filing deadline was Dec. 8.

Incumbent David Holt defeated Frank Urbanic, Carol Hefner, and Jimmy Lawson. Holt received 59.8% of the votes. Though the office is nonpartisan, Holt has identified as a Republican.

The runoff election, scheduled for April 5, was canceled after Holt won the general election outright.

Oklahoma City is the largest city in Oklahoma and the 27th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Elections to be held March 1 in Montpelier, Vt.

Nonpartisan elections for the mayor and four of the six city council seats in Montpelier, Vt. are scheduled for March 1. The candidate filing deadline passed on Jan. 24.

Anne Watson and Stephen Whitaker are competing in the mayoral race. Dona Bate is running unopposed in District 1, and Conor Casey is running unopposed in District 2. Alice Goltz and Cary Brown are competing for one of the District 3 seats. Another District 3 seat is up for special election on the same date. Jennifer Morton and Gene Leon are competing in the special election.

The special election was called after Dan Richardson resigned on Sept. 1 to become the city attorney for Burlington. Richardson served from March 2021 to Sept. 2021. 

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont. The city’s population was 8,074 as of 2020.

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Dickens defeats Moore in Atlanta mayoral runoff election

City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) defeated City Council President Felicia Moore (D) in the general runoff election for mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 30, 2021, receiving 64% of the vote to Moore’s 36%. Incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) announced on May 6, 2021, that she would not seek re-election, making her the first Atlanta mayor since World War II to choose not to run for a second term.

Dickens and Moore advanced to a runoff after placing second and first, respectively, in the Nov. 2 general election. Moore received 41% of the vote followed by Dickens with 23%. This was the city’s seventh mayoral runoff since 1973.

Dickens was first elected to the city council in 2013 and won re-election in 2017. During the mayoral race, he promoted his SAFE Streets Atlanta plan, a series of public safety proposals in response to voter concerns regarding crime. He received endorsements from Mayor Lance Bottoms, former Mayors Shirley Jackson (D) and Andrew Young (D), and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D). Dickens also received endorsements from six members of the Atlanta City Council and three Fulton County Commissioners.

The number of votes cast in the runoff decreased by 18.1% compared to the general election, making this the largest decrease since the 1993 contest between Bill Campbell and Michael Lomax. 2021 was also the second time since at least 1981 where the second-place finisher in the general election went on to win the runoff.



Brown defeats Walton in Buffalo, New York mayoral election

Byron Brown (D) defeated India Walton (D) in the general election for mayor of Buffalo, New York, on November 2, 2021. Brown, who ran as a write-in candidate in the general election, received 59.6% of the vote to Walton’s 40%.

Walton defeated Brown in the June 22 Democratic primary. Following his primary defeat, Brown announced he would run in the general election as a write-in candidate. Walton received 51% of the vote in the June 22 primary followed by Brown with 46%. Brown was first elected mayor of Buffalo in 2005 and won re-election three times before the 2021 election. Before losing the 2021 primary, he had won the four preceding Democratic mayoral primaries by an average margin of 26.5 percentage points.

A write-in victory in one of the country’s 100 largest cities is rare but not unheard of. Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit, Mich., advanced from a 2013 primary as a write-in candidate. And Beverly O’Neil won re-election to a third term as mayor of Long Beach, Calif., in 2002 as a write-in.

Before the election, the New York Times’ Jesse McKinley said the mayoral race “reflects the defining tension within the national Democratic Party, pitting its new generation of left-wing politicians against its more moderate establishment,” referring to Walton and Brown, respectively.

Walton, a nurse and community activist, said Brown had not delivered results as mayor, and that his record “showed that he doesn’t have much care … for the people of Buffalo, unless they’re wealthy developers or heads of large corporations.” She received endorsements from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the local and national branches of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party of New York. She also received a general election endorsement from the Erie County Democratic Party, which endorsed Brown in the primary but switched its support to Walton following her primary election victory.

Brown, who became the city’s longest-serving mayor in January 2021, said Walton was “an unqualified, inexperienced, radical socialist,” and described the general election as “a choice between proven results and false, empty promises.” He received general election endorsements from U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Common Councilmembers Joseph Golombek (D), Christopher Scanlon (D), and Ulysees Wingo (D), and former Mayor Anthony Masiello (D). He also received endorsements from The Buffalo News and the local, county, and state police benevolent associations.

Both Walton and Brown also received support from satellite organizations. The Working Families Party’s national PAC supported Walton with satellite spending, while the New York State Association of Realtors and the New York Republican Party supported Brown.

Sean “Jaz” Miles (R), Benjamin Carlisle (I), William O’Dell (I), and Taniqua Simmons (I) also ran in the general election as write-in candidates.

As of December 2021, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.

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Party control of mayor’s office in Columbia, S.C., flips from Democratic to Republican in runoff

Daniel Rickenmann defeated Tameika Isaac Devine in the runoff election for mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 16. Rickenmann received 52% of the vote to Devine’s 48%. Both Rickenmann and Devine are members of the Columbia City Council.

While mayoral elections in Columbia are nonpartisan, Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican Party. Incumbent Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a Democrat, did not run for re-election. Benjamin endorsed Devine, also a Democrat, in the runoff.

Fifteen state capitals held mayoral elections in 2021. Before these elections, 14 officeholders were Democrats and one was nonpartisan. As a result of the 2021 elections, 12 mayoral offices will remain under Democratic control (Atlanta, Georgia, will hold a runoff election between two Democrats on Nov. 30). The election in Columbia flips one office from Democratic to Republican control. One office continues to be held by a nonpartisan mayor, and one newly-elected mayor has not responded to inquiries.

Currently, the mayors of 39 state capitals are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Four are Republicans, one is independent, and two are nonpartisan. Four mayors have not responded to inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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