Since launching her mayoral campaign in September, U.S. Rep Karen Bass has picked up copious endorsements, not to mention more than $1 million in donations. Yesterday, she secured another important bit of momentum: the backing of highly respected Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
In a Zoom announcement, Schiff, now in his 11th term, touted his House colleague’s experience, acumen and ability to bring people together.
“I think she is one of our most thoughtful, strategic, insightful and collaborative members I have worked with,” Schiff said in the brief event. “That’s really what you need in a mayor of Los Angeles.”
Schiff, who chairs the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee, cited Bass’ past, mentioning her role as a healthcare professional—she worked as a physician assistant—and founding the South Los Angeles social justice nonprofit the Community Coalition. He referenced her time as speaker of the California Assembly and her federal experience since she took a seat in Congress in 2010.
Bass embraced the endorsement, calling Schiff a “dear friend” and classifying his backing as “a tremendous boost to my campaign.”
“You are a leader and one of the most respected members of the House of Representatives,” she said, adding, “and now you are playing a role that is so critical in the country: protecting our democracy.”
Many political observers belief Bass, who was on Joe Biden’s shortlist of running mates, is the frontrunner in the race to replace a termed-out Eric Garcetti. Yet the competition is stiff, with a variety of notable candidates from inside and outside City Hall. Also running are City Attorney Mike Feuer, councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Kevin de León, as well as business executive Jessica Lall.
Additional speculation continues to swirl around mall developer Rick Caruso and businessman and former LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner. Neither of the affluent individuals has yet to commit to or rule out a run.
The primary election takes next June, just over six months from now, and homelessness continues to be a dominant issue for voters. Schiff described it as a national challenge, but said, “no city feels it more acutely than Los Angeles,” a reference to the more than 41,000 people in the city estimated to be living without permanent shelter.
Schiff said Bass’ network of relationships would help her address the crisis while in the mayor’s office. He noted that any mayor will need to secure resources and support from federal, state and local governments, as well as nonprofit and for-profit entities.
“I can’t imagine anyone better suited to the task,” Schiff pronounced. “I think Karen is uniquely situated to deal with this challenge.”
Bass has already made responding to the crisis a cornerstone of her campaign. In the webinar, she said she and Schiff worked on legislation which passed the House that could address homelessness by providing housing vouchers and other resources that prevent people from winding up on the streets in the first place. The legislation still needs to be passed by the U.S. Senate before it could move to Biden’s desk.
Schiff, who was first elected to Congress in 2001, and who represents communities including Los Feliz, Silverlake and the Hollywood Hills, saw his public profile skyrocket in 2019, when he became a leader in the Democrats’ push for the impeachment of President Trump. Trump relentlessly swung back, criticizing and tweeting about Schiff, which only raised the level of adoration among Schiff’s supporters.
The Congressman’s backing could be felt in more ways than on slick mailers and in campaign commercials. Schiff is known as a prolific fundraiser for the Democratic party, and he could be a conduit to additional funds for Bass’ war chest. Every dollar will be needed, as leading candidates are expected to spend millions in the primary and the November general election.
During the event, the two also touched on divisiveness at the national level, and cited threats to democracy such as the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C. Schiff said he and Bass are among the Democrats working on legislation intended to protect democracy, with safeguards for the independence of the Department of Justice and various inspectors general.
Bass, referencing comments she made to Los Angeles in October, warned that the divide is a danger locally as well as nationally.
“Watching the last four years and the way the country was just torn apart is one of the things that frankly concerns me about Los Angeles, because there is such a high level of anger and frustration,” she said. “I don’t want to see our city torn apart. I want to learn the lessons from the last administration and do everything I can to bring people together, and to recognize the problems that we face really require the city to come together.”
Schiff’s endorsement adds to Bass’ list of high-profile backers. Other prominent individuals supporting her candidacy include Congress members Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Katie Porter and Lucille Roybal-Allard. She was also endorsed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
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