Mike Feuer Drops Out of Mayor’s Race and Backs Karen Bass

City Attorney also takes shots at developer Rick Caruso

City Attorney Mike Feuer this morning pulled the plug on his mayoral campaign and endorsed U.S. Rep Karen Bass. Speaking in a park in Encino, he declared that “elections are about choices,” and as he threw his support behind the congresswoman, he also took swings at mall developer Rick Caruso.

Feuer’s move came five days after another elected official, Councilmember Joe Buscaino, cut short his own mayoral run, and publicly backed Caruso. The moves dramatically reshape the field as the June 7 election approaches. Some votes have already been cast, as mail-in ballots landed in homes across the city last week. Any votes for Feuer or Buscaino still count.

Feuer had been in the race longer than anyone else, having launched his campaign in March 2020, days before COVID-19 shut down the city and the world. Like Buscaino, Feuer’s decision to drop out came after public polls showed him mired in the single digits, far behind Caruso and Bass.

Perhaps more importantly, fundraising had become increasingly difficult. In the first four months of 2022 Feuer raised $118,000 from donors and lent his campaign another $100,000, according to documents filed with the City Ethics Commission. His campaign had generated about $2 million between donations and city matching funds.

So far, Caruso has dumped more than $25 million into his quest to succeed a termed-out Eric Garcetti. His TV ads have blanketed the airwaves.

Feuer had sought to generate momentum in the past few months, making weekend visits to more than 100 neighborhoods across Los Angeles. The two-term City Attorney also recently launched an amusing ad in which he described himself as an “underdog” and walked around Los Angeles with a dachshund on a leash. Feuer cast his decision to end his campaign in a practical light.

“I’ve reviewed my recent polling, and while things are moving in the right direction, without a major infusion of additional money to stay on the air, I can’t win,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and pride takes second place. The future of the city and what the city needs takes first place.”

That, he said, is Bass, and he described a friendship and working relationship that dates back 30 years, to when Feuer was a Westside Los Angeles City Councilmember and Bass was the founder of the South L.A. social justice nonprofit the Community Coalition.

Bass praised Feuer for work they did together in the 1990s and then during the Great Recession, when she was Speaker of the State Assembly, and he was a member of the California legislature. She touted his leadership on a variety of levels.

“When it was about gun control, Mike Feuer stepped up and took the lead,” Bass stated. “His leadership on gun control has been recognized all over the country, including the White House.”

Feuer has taken aim at Caruso during a pair of televised debates, questioning why the developer registers his yacht in the Cayman Islands. He continued his criticism in the Encino park.

“As much as I am enthusiastic about supporting Karen, the choice is stark: She is right for L.A. Rick Caruso is wrong for L.A.,” Feuer stated. “Rick Caruso’s campaign has been a toxic mix of false claims, promises he knows he can’t keep and a desperate efforts to distance himself from a failed record of leadership of USC.”

He also cited Caruso only recently registering as a Democrat, asserting it was a strategic decision made to appeal to voters.

Caruso’s campaign brushed off the jabs.

“It would be much better for our city if politicians put as much energy into solving problems like homelessness, crime and corruption as they do making personal attacks,” said Lex Olbrei, a senior advisor to Caruso.

In addition to his fundraising challenges, Feuer’s campaign has been unable to escape the shadow of an FBI investigation into his office’s role in a bungled rollout of a DWP billing system. Although Feuer has never personally been accused of impropriety, Thomas Peters, a former high-ranking attorney in the office, last month pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting extortion.

Caruso had criticized Feuer during the first televised debate for the scandal, noting that federal agents had raided the offices of the City Attorney.

The departure of Feuer and Buscaino means that only one person in city government remains in the race: District 14 Councilmember Kevin de León continues to run on a platform of advocating for working Angelenos. On Tuesday he rolled out a pair of 30-second ads, in English and Spanish, voiced by Danny Trejo.