Welcome to LAMag’s 2022 election coverage, where you’ll find news, analysis, and results (when they finally arrive) from the staff of LAMag.com and Los Angeles magazine. And don’t miss some of our previous L.A. politics coverage—including a recent story on the last-minute kerfuffle mayoral hopeful Karen Bass had with L.A.’s Korean American community, a look at this election cycle in 22 chapters, and of course, our cover story interview with outgoing mayor Eric Garcetti.
2:07 p.m. Final Thoughts: Leads Fall Apart and No One Knows Anything
We now have to wait until Friday for the next vote count. For now, any candidate currently riding in first place by single digits should refrain from the urge to buy a snazzy inauguration day power suit. That’s because, as the primary showed, election night results can, and do, flip.
Recall that on June 7, Caruso ended the evening ahead by 5 percent in the mayoral primary. But when all the votes were counted and the race was certified weeks later, Bass was up on the billionaire by 7 percent. And this flip happened in multiple races in the spring. On primary night, District 1 City Councilman Gil Cedillo had a comfortable lead and seemed assured of a third term, but ended up falling to rival candidate Eunisses Hernandez. There was a similar result in District 13 when incumbent Mitch O’Farrell saw an election-night advantage evaporate and Hugo Soto-Martinez marched into his runoff campaign with a 9-point win.
Overall, the late votes in June broke hard toward progressive candidates. But no one has solid intel on whether that will occur again. As for this cycle’s move to a mail-in ballot option and the shift to L.A. voting in even-numbered years, there is, again, no real evidence yet from which to pull any solid conclusions. In the days before the election, some smart folks predicted that this time, more centrist candidates might see their fortunes improve.
Really, we have no idea what is to come. — Jon Regardie
12:32 p.m. The Wait Will Be Long
Who is the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles? Hopefully, we’ll know by Thanksgiving, at least.
And I’m not being facetious—the final update from election night, which dropped at 3:35 a.m. on Wednesday, put mall man Rick Caruso in first place with 51.25 percent. This is about 12,000 votes ahead of U.S. Rep. Karen Bass. A total of 492,670 ballots have been tabulated.
This does not even approach the totals from the June primary, when nearly 650,000 people cast a vote for mayor. The general election tends to have a higher turnaround, so L.A. could be waiting for 200,000 city ballots, or more, to be tabulated.
According to the office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, about 1.32 million ballots for the entirety of Los Angeles County have been processed and counted so far, but there is zero hint of how high the voter rolls will swell. The next update is not until—gulp—Friday; the following drop takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 15. This could go on for weeks. — Jon Regardie
10:57 a.m. Traci Park Fires Up District 11
If Traci Park’s nearly 11-point lead over Erin Darling holds up in the slugfest over Venice-centric City Council District 11—currently represented by Mike Bonin—she will owe her win in no small part to muscular support from the union representing Los Angeles firefighters.
With $381,000 in PAC money and every ounce of the substantial political capital the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City could muster, they flooded the district—from LAX to Pacific Palisades—with mailers and yard sign-support for Park, along with a slew of web videos highlighting the surge in fires at area homeless encampments.
In the June primary, Park finished more than three points behind Darling, a criminal and civil litigator endorsed by Bonin; growing dissatisfaction with the spread of homelessness in District 11 led to a near recall for the councilman in 2021. The embattled progressive was persuaded not to run for a third term.
Park ran as the anti-Bonin candidate and consolidated the votes of those who wanted him out while painting Darling as “Bonin 2.0.” Park was also helped when Darling hired Josh Androsky, a leader of the L.A. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America; he shifted the tone of the campaign to that of an East Side punch-up, which appears to have riled up Park’s supporters.
Twenty members of United Firefighters Los Angeles City turned out at the Traci Park election night party, posing for group photos with the beaming candidate in front of a banner that read “Firefighters Support Traci Park.”
Roughly 1.3 million votes—A fraction of the total cast in L.A. County—have been counted so far. But if the tally holds, then Park, a former L.A. County deputy district attorney, will owe a tip of the cap to the firefighters union. The next vote count is scheduled to come in on Friday morning.
Freddy Escobar, the president of UFLAC, was feeling optimistic enough with Park’s cozy lead over Darling— 22,688 votes against 18,813—to blast the slate of DSA-endorsed candidates citywide.
“Firefighters have sent a message in this election cycle, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s races, that this city desperately needs change,” said Escobar, before he was off to the election night party of mayoral hopeful Rick Caruso. “We are not OK with DSA-aligned candidates that want to defund public safety and perpetuate the status quo with our failed homeless strategy…That’s why we went all in for Traci Park in CD11, and that’s why we will keep fighting for candidates who will actually work to fix the streets of Los Angeles.”
Confident as Escobar may have been feeling on Tuesday night, that message from firefighters didn’t necessarily resonate across L.A. In the battle to represent District 13, for example, DSA-endorsed candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez has managed to widen his lead over the firefighters-endorsed incumbent, Mitch O’Farrell, who has represented the constituency that includes Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park since 2013. — Jason McGahan
10:19 p.m. Mejia’s Campaign Manager to Critics: “Fuck That”
After City Controller candidate Kenneth Mejia declared victory on Tuesday, his campaign manager, Jane Nguyen, gave a speech in which she addresses apparent critics, who she indicates have repeatedly asked if they condemn their “volunteers” for “protesting” or “interrupting a meeting.”
As LAMag reported in June, Mejia supporters, including those who’d been paid by his campaign, interrupted multiple mayoral debates and forums this year. One of these incidents took place inside Temple Beth Hillel, where Steven Chun shouted down candidates with profanities, ultimately prompting a rabbi to clear the audience from the event room. Huntington Beach native Chun also rushed the stage at a mayoral debate on February 22 at Loyola Marymount University and at a mayoral forum held by progressive Asian groups on April 30. Designated as “Delivery driver, Doordash” on a campaign donation form, Chun was paid $2,500 by the Mejia campaign between July 1 and December 31, 2021.
And at the San Fernando Valley synagogue, a second Mejia staffer had stood and shouted profanities at Rep. Karen Bass. “You don’t give a fuck about poor people,” Sim-Marel Bilal yelled at her, adding that the U.S. rep is “a fucking liar.” As LAMag’s Jason McGahan reported in June, Bilal was paid $1,500 by Mejia’s campaign during the period in which the profanity-laden disruption took place. — Kevin Andrew Dolak
Kenneth Mejia’s campaign manager @theglowingstars has a message:
“it wasn’t enough that th they had to drag kenneth’s name through the mud, they attacked some of the youngest members of the campaign for daring to speak out. Here’s what I have to say about that: FUCK THAT!” pic.twitter.com/jtm0a5miqy
— People’s City Council – Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) November 9, 2022
10:19 p.m. Music to Our Ears and For Our Schools
At the risk of including an obvious pun, a statewide ballot proposition on music and arts education that was born in Los Angeles looks to soon have its proponents singing.
Proposition 28, the subject of a recent LAMag article, would mandate that approximately $1 billion a year be dedicated to providing music and arts education for every K-12 student in California public schools. According to the latest results from the Secretary of State, approximately 2.7 million people have voted in favor of the proposition. That works out to 63.2% of the vote for a proposition that needs a simple majority to pass.
Proposition 28 was sparked by former LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner, and unlike propositions that rely on tens of millions of dollars in TV advertisement, this one has been propelled by backing from a variety of entertainers, including Lil Baby, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera and John Lithgow.
The money to fund arts and music in our schools would come from the state general fund, and would not lead to a new tax. According to the Secretary of State, as of 10 p.m., 47.6 percent of precincts had reported partial results. — Jon Regardie
8:55 p.m. A Grim Night for Villanueva
The first batch of election results just came in. The race for mayor of Los Angeles mayor is tight. The race for L.A. County sheriff? Not so much.
According to results posted by the L.A. County Registrar/Recorder, in the race for mayor, Rep. Karen Bass has 165,250 votes or 50.83 percent. That’s just ahead of the 158,857 for mall developer Rick Caruso. He claims 49.17 percent of the vote. During the primary and runoff, of course, Caruso has put more than $107 million into his campaign. Bass’s total is less than $10 million.
The other closely-watched race in the region is Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s attempt to secure a second term. Early results for him are not pretty. Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna grabbed 489,396 votes, which works out to 62.7 percent. The incumbent is at 37.3 percent, with 291,185 votes.
The vote-counting process is expected to be slow, and it could be days, or even weeks until Angelenos know who will succeed Eric Garcetti as mayor. But the sheriff’s race could be effectively over this evening. — Jon Regardie
7:36 p.m. Caruso’s Key to an Upset
Since he launched his campaign for mayor, Rick Caruso has been hellbent on pulling off an upset over Karen Bass, who was the instant frontrunner after she’d flirted with running for VP with Joe Biden. To actually pull this off, Caruso will need to do better with Latino voters than he did in the primary—and he already did very well, winning 34% of the Latino vote in June, far outpolling Bass (20%) and even finishing ahead of also-ran Kevin De León.
Prognosticators are keeping their eyes peeled for higher-than-average voter turnout in the Valley and the Harbor Region, outlying areas of Los Angeles with heavy concentrations of Latino voters where Caruso spent a lot of his time and millions from his war chest on his Latino voter outreach.
Bellwether ‘burbs include the heart of ex-City Council President Nury Martinez’s former district, like Arleta, Van Nuys, Sun Valley, North Hollywood, Lake Balboa, North Hills, and Panorama City, not to mention the blue-collar precincts of San Pedro and Wilmington, where the longshoremen union is backing the magnate. Despite all the symbolism of Boyle Heights in Caruso campaign ads—and the hiring of a key de León campaigner to head up Latino outreach there—Bass has some support in the East Side barrio. However, Caruso’s camp says the dismal early-voting turnout of 11% there—the fourth lowest in the city—isn’t worrisome to them.
Nilza Serrano, a Caruso campaign surrogate who is president of Avance Democratic Club, a Latino group, said of the low numbers as of 9 a.m., “We’re always late to the party and we don’t RSVP.” — Jason McGahan
7:20 p.m. Where The Runoff Races Landed Last Time
As a reminder, a whopping seven city races are in runoff territory—meaning none of the candidates reached the 50% threshold needed to win their race outright in the June primary. In June, about 646,000 residents of the city of Los Angeles cast ballots, representing about 30% of the electorate. According to tracking firm Political Data Inc., before polls opened this morning, about 19% of ballots had already been returned.
Everything will change in a few hours—polls close at 8 p.m.—but here is how things ended up after all of the June votes were counted in these seven races. — Jon Regardie
Karen Bass, 43.1%
Rick Caruso: 36%
Faisal Gill: 24.2%
Hydee Feldstein Soto: 19.9%
Kenneth Mejia: 43.1%
Paul Koretz: 23.7%
City Council District 5
Katy Young Yaroslavsky: 48.9%
Sam Yebri: 29.7%
Erin Darling: 34.7%
Traci Park: 29%
Hugo Soto-Martinez: 40.6%
Mitch O’Farrell: 31.7%
Tim McOsker: 37.7%
Danielle Sandoval: 29.3%
6:54 p.m. Rep. Karen Bass Brings Grandson to Polling Station
This morning at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, Rep. Karen Bass cast her ballot alongside her grandson, Henry.
Rep. Karen Bass voting with her grandson at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall this AM. pic.twitter.com/P932SOtLiH
— Julia Wick (@sherlyholmes) November 8, 2022
6:42 p.m. Is Sheriff Villanueva’s Campaign Toast?
Elections can always deliver surprises, but at this point, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s bid for a second term looks to be cooked. The embattled sheriff, who is facing too many lawsuits to list, garnered a dismal 30% of the vote in the primary—when he was the only one on the ballot with any name recognition. Now, he looks to lose to Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna in an embarrassing landslide. And that shock move of ordering the search of octogenarian County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Santa Monica house back in September—presumably to shower his perceived enemy with bad press—did not provide much of a bounce for his campaign to hold onto his job.
I’ll personally be stunned if he even cracks 45% of the vote today, and I won’t be surprised if he’s under 40% when all of the votes are counted. If past performance is an indicator, the first returns should arrive between 8:20-8:45 p.m. — Jon Regardie
6:22 p.m. Going Into Election Day, Race for Mayor Is a Toss-Up
As of Tuesday morning, polling is giving no indication as to who will likely be the next to run Los Angeles, and the tight race between Rep. Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso has somehow become even tighter in the past week.
Six-term U.S. Rep Bass would be the first woman and second Black person to be L.A.’s mayor. Caruso has used over $100 million—essentially entirely from his own bank account and spent on a seemingly never-ending series of TV ads—to prevent this as he seeks to become L.A.’s first billionaire mall developer mayor.
An early October poll revealed a 15-point advantage for Bass over Caruso. The career politician led by only four points as voters headed to the polls.
“Who is going to be the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles? Good question,” LAMag columnist Jon Regardie said today. “Recent polls have had the race tight, and while the demographics of Los Angeles make the city more likely to lean toward a lifelong Democrat like Bass, the $107 million that Caruso has dropped, and the ground game his team has unleashed, are the type of things that can explode expectations. It’s a cliché, but it literally all comes down to who can turn out their base.” — Kevin Andrew Dolak
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.