Rep. Karen Bass could announce her candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles next week, likely joining the field of high-profile officials seeking to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is barred for running for re-election because of term limits.
An official announcement is expected soon, possibly next week, barring unexpected changes, The Washington Post reported, citing information from two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations.
In response to questions about Bass’ intentions, her communications director Zach Seidl issued a statement saying, “Los Angeles is facing a humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis in the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on Angelenos. She does not want to see these two issues tear the city apart. Los Angeles has to come together. That’s why the congresswoman is considering a run for mayor.”
Others who have already announced their candidacy include City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de Leon, City Attorney Mike Feuer and Central City Association of Los Angeles President and CEO Jessica Lall.
A Bass entry into the race would be a “game changer,” Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and political analyst, told CBS2.
“It changes every dynamic in this race and I think she does become the front-runner,” Levinson told CBS2.
Bass, D-Los Angeles, has been facing public pressure to run for mayor during recent weeks, and on Aug. 23, a California-based public opinion research firm released a poll that found more than a quarter of a sample of the city’s Democrats supported her against current and potential candidates in the 2022 election.
Along with Bass, other potential candidates included in the poll were former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, Council President Nury Martinez, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and businessman Rick Caruso. The poll also included Buscaino, Feuer and de Leon — who had not yet announced his candidacy.
Ridley-Thomas and Martinez have both said they will not run for mayor in 2022.
About 27% of Democrats polled said that if the election were held Saturday, they would vote for Bass.
“A plurality is undecided, and the race is wide open, but Bass is the only potential candidate for mayor who can claim a real base of support,” according to a summary of the survey of 803 Los Angeles voters, which was conducted between July 29 and Aug. 5 by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.
The person who commissioned the poll was not publicly identified, but a representative for the public opinion research firm said the individual is not a politician.
Bass would be Los Angeles’ first female mayor and only the second Black mayor, after Mayor Tom Bradley, who led the city from 1973 to 1993.
“She’s a national leader in Congress — a job that has no term limits,” Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, D-Los Angeles, tweeted Wednesday about a potential run from Bass. “Her running for mayor would be the greatest demonstration of love and commitment to the city I’ve ever seen … and we need it.”
Emmy-winning comedy writer Ashley Nicole Black tweeted, “I love her so much. Does the campaign need jokes? That’s the only thing I’m good at but I want to contribute.”
Bass would be the first sitting House member to be elected mayor of Los Angeles since 1953, when Rep. Norris Poulson was elected. Then-Reps. James Roosevelt, Alphonzo Bell and Xavier Becerra lost campaigns for mayor in 1965, 1969 and 2001.
Bass was elected to the House in 2010 and was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2019-21. She was under consideration to be President Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate, but then-Sen. Kamala Harris, D- California, was chosen instead.
The 67-year-old Bass represents the 37th Congressional District, which encompasses Los Angeles neighborhoods west and southwest of downtown including Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista and parts of Westwood, as well as Culver City and Inglewood.
Bass was a member of the Assembly from 2004-10, serving as its speaker from 2008-10.
The primary for the 2022 Los Angeles mayoral election will take place on June 7, with the top two finishers squaring off in the election on Nov. 8.