February 2, 2022
Rick Caruso is a billionaire real estate developer in Los Angeles. It is expected he will soon announce his candidacy for mayor. He just changed his party registration from “no preference” to Democrat. Before he was no preference, he was a Republican. New York’s new mayor Eric Adams is also a former Republican who converted to Democrat. Caruso has clearly made a calculation that, as in America’s other large cities, it is simply no longer possible to win as a Republican.
Technically, the mayor position is non-partisan. There is no Democrat or Republican primary, just an election in June among all candidates without reference to party affiliation. If no one gets over 50 percent there is a run-off in November of the top two.
Los Angeles has not had a Republican mayor in 20 years. Not a single member of the 15-person city council is a Republican. In fact, Los Angeles does not have a single Republican representative of any kind, whether it be in the city, state legislature, or in Congress. So, one can certainly understand Caruso’s reluctance to run as a Republican.
The Republican brand in California has been effectively destroyed by the Democrats’ use of identity politics and cancel culture. They claim to be the party of the “black and brown community” (as they call it), women, and LGBTQ, and those groups in turn vote for them in large numbers. And if you do not support their agenda, you are labeled a “racist, “sexist,” or “homophobe.” Who wants to be called that?
When it comes to actual policies, however, California voters are often conservative, as evidenced by their vote on recent ballot initiatives on issues ranging from independent contractors to marriage to rent control to cash bail to taxes to affirmative action.
The climate would certainly appear right for a Republican to win in Los Angeles. Angelenos have awoken to the damage caused by the far-left takeover of the city. Regardless of party, they are fed up with the homeless and crime problem.
Venice is ground zero for the homeless issue. The council member for that area, Mike Bonin, has been facing a recall effort for his policies, which have included providing showers on the sidewalks for the homeless and building shelters for them on beach parking lots intended to provide access for families and tourists to enjoy the beach. Polling is so bad for his reelection bid that he recently announced he will not seek another term.
The explosion in crime also has Angelenos unnerved, resulting in a recall campaign against far left, George Soros-backed District Attorney Gascón, an advocate for reducing sentences, jail time, and bail. Also to blame for the increased crime is the mayor and city council which defunded the LAPD resulting in the loss of 500 police officers.
Los Angeles hosts the Olympics in six years. If it is to be cleaned up in time to host international tourists, having a successful businessperson at the helm should be appealing to Angelenos. And with the ability to self-fund his campaign, Caruso has a good chance to win. His leading opponent is Congresswoman Karen Bass, a former community organizer who comes from the Mayors Lori Lightfoot, Bill de Blasio, and London Breed school of progressive governance. Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are not doing any better than L.A.
Nonetheless, Caruso has determined that having the Republican label is just too risky. Of his switch, he says, “I won’t be a typical Democrat, that’s for sure. I will be a pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat.” In an open letter, he wrote, “As a Democrat, I will prioritize the safety of our families—not hamstringing our police but helping them be better and more effective …. Most of all, this means managing homelessness as an unprecedented, city-threatening crisis.”
So, we will have no prominent Republican candidate for L.A. mayor and still do not have one for this year’s governor race. Until the Republican party corrects the perception of its brand in California, we may see more Republicans running as Democrats.
Caruso says he will be a “common sense Democrat.” The party’s far left policies of late makes that sound like an oxymoron, but considering the current shape of Los Angeles, I will take it.