LOS ANGELES — A contentious and historically expensive race to be mayor of LA was unresolved early Wednesday, with Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso separated by a thin margin in early returns and large numbers of ballots uncounted.
Both Bass and Caruso expressed optimism about the early returns as they held election night rallies and both predicted final results could be several days away.
“We don’t know the outcome yet, but I’m happy to say that we’re starting out strong and we’re a couple thousand votes ahead,” Caruso said early in the night to supporters at The Grove, an upscale shopping center his company developed.
Bass told supporters at her rally at the Palladium to expect a long night and a wait of several days for results but she expected to prevail. “We will win because we’re going to build a new Los Angeles,” she said.
In the June primary, Caruso led Bass early on but then slipped into second place a week later. In the end, the congresswoman came out 7 points ahead.
A law that took effect last year requires county elections officials to send mail-in ballots to all active registered voters. A mail ballot can be postmarked until 8 p.m. on election day and arrive up to 7 days later and still be counted.
Caruso, a billionaire former Republican, has poured roughly $100 million of his own fortune in the race. Bass, who was elected in 2010 after serving as speaker of the state Assembly, ran with the support of nearly the entire Democratic Party establishment.