Rep. Karen Bass trimmed Rick Caruso’s lead in the race to become Los Angeles’ next mayor, according to updated election returns released Thursday by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

Bass trailed Caruso Thursday by just under 2,700 votes — down from a 12,000-vote deficit early Wednesday morning, when the clerk’s office last released an update. An additional 134,099 vote-by-mail ballots returned through Election Day were added to the vote count Thursday afternoon, bringing the total ballots counted to 1,452,192.

The next update will be Friday afternoon, with subsequent updates every Tuesday and Friday until all ballots are tallied.

Caruso and Bass remain locked in a virtual 50-50 deadlock, and a winner might not be determined for days or even weeks.

Late Thursday, the county registrar’s office announced that there were roughly 883,000 ballots still to be counted, though the office did not specify how many of those come from the city of Los Angeles.

“As predicted, this is a close race,” Caruso said. “There are hundreds of thousands of votes to count and as expected we are going to see different results each time. I continue to be cautiously optimistic about these numbers and look forward to the next series of results in the coming weeks.”

Sarah Leonard Sheahan, Bass’ communications director, said in a statement following the results Thursday that the campaign was confident Bass would eventually prevail.

“In the coming days, the voice of the people of Los Angeles will be heard and we feel confident that we will win,” Sheahan said.

Bass, a six-term member of Congress, is seeking to become the first woman and only the second Black person to lead Los Angeles. Caruso, a billionaire developer, is looking to win a campaign that’s on track to spend over $100 million — much of it from Caruso’s own fortune — to propel him into contention.

The winner will inherit leadership of a city grappling with a scandal that has embroiled City Hall for the past month, after three council members and a top county labor official took part in a leaked conversation in October 2021 that included racist comments and attempts to manipulate redistricting.

Caruso has connected the scandal to claims that the city political system is broken — exacerbating issues such as homelessness and crime. He painted himself as the candidate of change, blaming a failure of leadership for the City Hall scandal.

“People are spending more time protecting themselves and protecting their jobs than working for the residents of the city,” Caruso said during the final mayoral debate on Oct. 11. “This is why we have crime out of control.”

Bass said at the debate that she would make sure Los Angeles rejects “the politics of divide and conquer.” Bass, who finished nearly 8 percentage points ahead of Caruso in the June primary, has sought to frame her opponent’s campaign as one driven solely by Caruso’s wallet.

In an interview with City News Service in October, Bass said Caruso “represents the worst of our political discourse.”

“He shows the worst of what can happen when you have somebody who has unlimited resources, and then you have someone who is raising money and abiding by all the rules,” Bass said. “He has no rules. He has just writes checks.”

Caruso countered that by pulling from his personal funds and not taking money from special interest groups, he would not be swayed by lobbyists and have the city’s best interests at heart.

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