We Have Another Midterms Idiot to Dunk On
Billionaire ghoul Rick Caruso has officially lost the Los Angeles mayoral race and goddamn it feels good.
It’s been nine days since the 2022 midterm elections and as pockets of bafflingly decent-to-good news keep coming in, we’re increasingly rewarded with a fresh bounty of people we can heckle into oblivion.
Just in the last few days, we’ve been gifted with the felling of goons like Kari Lake, Adam Laxalt, and Blake Masters. And sure, it’s not all positive news by any stretch, but after years of horrifying election cycles, any feeling resembling “huh, that wasn’t as bad as we expected??” this feels like a frickin’ spa day.
For its part, the city of Los Angeles, where I live, has had its own small set of buffoons dethroned, like City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell—who, during his most recent term, forcibly removed unhoused residents from an encampment in Echo Park and put up a fence to keep them out. Or Alex Villanueva, the rancid sheriff who mismanaged the department and was insistent on being a volatile, combative public figure (that’s probably about as diplomatic as one could be about his toxic ineptitude). Wins like those and others across LA, especially on the heels of a heinous, racist City Council blowup, feel pretty good for the country’s second-largest metropolis.
But wait, what’s that? Could it be? Yes! There’s another idiot coming around the corner.
Rick Caruso!!!!!!!! Retire bitch!! I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve been living in fear for months that this anti-abortion/real estate developer/billionaire/brand new “Democrat” who helped cover up a massive sexual assault scandal and has no political experience was about to become my mayor. The dude spent over $100 million ($100 million!!!!) on a platform of “fixing homelessness” and “public safety,” and has now had his ass rightly handed to him. I’m not usually one to count my chickens before they hatch, but it was very, very fun watching Caruso’s early lead slowly melt away and recede into the darkness in the days following the election. Here’s what one analyst told The Los Angeles Times earlier this week, which I read several times over after it was published as a form of meditation:
“These results mean Karen Bass is on track to win the mayoralty of Los Angeles,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. “For Caruso to win, he would not only have to reverse this trend, but reverse it dramatically, winning the same percentage of votes she has recently taken. There has been no indication to believe he can do that.”
“There has been no indication to believe he can do that.” :)
I really cannot overstate how much Rick Caruso’s name has invaded Los Angeles in recent months. The ocean of money he spent (which was rivaled in municipal elections only by Michael Bloomberg’s spending in 2009, lmao enjoy hell you two) was everywhere: lawn signs, TV ads, mailers, and every other possible venue through which this man thought he could buy votes. Caruso’s spending so vastly exceeded that of opponent Karen Bass that I really started to believe this halfwit stood a good chance, even in a city that should, if history was any indication, know better.
This is how convinced I was that he might triumph: in an anxiety spiral last week I had my husband start to make this (he asked me to emphasize that it would have looked better if he finished it). And yes, I’m unwell:
I blame Katy Perry and Caruso’s other celebrity endorsers in part for fueling my dread. If nothing else, elections make it very clear which celebrities are complete tools.
Bass’ victory is thrilling in a certain sense (she will be the first woman and only the second Black Angeleno ever to become mayor), but it should be said that she’s not a perfect candidate. In brief: her history as a community organizer is good; her current support for cops and “crime wave” narratives is not. But next to the cartoon darkness of Caruso, which was becoming almost too dystopian over the last several months (and that’s in the context of the last six years!!), her win will remain sweet until she takes the job and the work of pushing her further left begins. Truly, a literal billionaire and property developer running ads every five minutes about how he would fix things for unhoused Angelenos was a truly sickening display and I am now gleefully dancing on the grave of his campaign. Billionaires shouldn’t exist at all, but billionaires who refuse to just sit back and enjoy their ill-gotten, cursed piles of money in private are the worst of them all.
While it’s a tremendous relief to say goodbye to Caruso for now, it’s hard not to think that the race shouldn’t have been this close in the first place. There’s the obvious issue of out-of-control campaign spending, but this race also serves as yet another shining example of the fact that Democratic candidates should be running on progressive policies that actually help people. Case in point: new LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia ran on a leftist platform and got more votes than either Bass or Caruso. Huh!!
There are plenty of things to be angry about from the 2022 midterms, but after the election trauma we’ve endured, it’s really still so disorienting to have any good news at all. When things were starting to look like they might go Bass’ way late last week, but we didn’t want to get our hopes up just yet, my husband said he was holding an image in his mind. I forced him to actually craft it for the blog.
There’s something that still feels very bewildering and suspicious about “hope” in electoral politics, whatever that even is. I know that there will be plenty of other idiots and threats to come. I’m sure the anger and despair will be back soon. The work is never over. But you still get to celebrate when the really bad guys lose. For now, I’ll take it.