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Four Silver Mountain Graphics in Mayor’s Race – Larchmont Buzz

It’s no longer news that in this year’s mayoral election, candidate spending was unprecedented, especially by developer Rick Caruso, who reportedly spent nearly $100 million of his own money in his campaign. This morning, however, we saw an interesting story that talks about what this could mean for future elections…and provides some great graphics that really put the numbers into perspective. The article comes from the USC-based nonprofit Crosstown News Organization, which has given permission to share the story with our Buzz readers.

By Carter Hyde and Gabriel Kahn
November 3, 2022

It was a campaign like no other, with more than $100 million spent on TV ads, canvasses, billboards and mailings.

At least Tuesday’s election result will put an end to the incessant emails and mailboxes full of junk mail. But it will also have set a new bar for what it costs to run a citywide campaign in the second-largest city in the United States.

The vast majority of the money for this year’s race came from a single source: mayoral candidate Rick Caruso’s bank account. Unless more billionaires run for mayor in the future, the lofty total is unlikely to be matched anytime soon. (Billionaire Michael Bloomberg also spent more than $100 million on his successful run for mayor of New York City in 2009.) But that doesn’t mean campaigns will return to “normal,” either.

“Campaigns never get cheaper,” said Dan Schnur, a veteran of four presidential campaigns and currently an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

It’s also unclear whether the flood of dollars is effectively moving the needle. In the primary, Caruso ended up spending an average of $176 for every vote he received. Rep. Karen Bass, who got more primary votes, spent an average of $11.79.

Caruso has only raised the bar since then. His total expenses exceed Bass’s by a ratio of more than 14 to 1.

“There won’t always be a candidate from Rick Caruso’s Personal Wealth Research Office,” Schnur said. “We probably won’t see this level of spending in every election, but the general trend is unmistakably and irreversibly on the rise.”

write checks

Although Bass is desperately spent in the race, she has an advantage: Far more people have donated to her campaign than to Caruso’s. That’s mainly because the developer’s willingness to spend their own money means they haven’t had to run the kind of fundraising events that are the mainstay of most campaigns.

Bass also received a total of $5.1 million in freelance spending to support his campaign, compared to $0 for Caruso. However, during the primary, there was $3.48 million in independent spending against her. (There were no independent expenses against her during the general campaign.) Caruso also attracted a lot of money from outside sources trying to block her candidacy: a total of $4.28 million in independent expenses went up. opposing him since the start of the campaign.

donating party

Raising money from the public also means more voters have a genuine stake in Bass’ success. It garnered 14,227 separate contributions (some of them from people outside of Los Angeles, and some include donors who gave to both primary and general campaigns). Caruso, on the other hand, received 3,101 donations.

A new normal?

Los Angeles might not have another candidate willing to pour $100 million of his own money into the race the next time the mayor’s office is up for grabs. But the city is unlikely to ever see a race where campaigning for the top job costs less than $10 million, either.

“The losing side always decides that next time they have to spend even more, so these trends will only continue to intensify,” Schnur said.

Here’s how this year’s spending totals compare to previous races.

How we did it: We reviewed fundraising and spending data compiled by the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission. Do you have questions about our data? Or do you want to know more? Email us at [email protected]

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