When the Los Angeles Democrats go to the polls on Tuesday, the name “Rick Caruso” will likely be in their heads. Caruso, a billionaire who earned most of his fortune developing outdoor malls, has borrowed $ 37.5 million for his campaign to become LA’s next mayor.
This money has helped Caruso flood Angelenos’ consciousness with a tsunami of ads highlighting his message of “tough on crime” and the latest wave of celebrities. Praise from people like Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elon Musk, Wolfgang Puck and (most surprisingly) Snoop Dogg seems genuine and enthusiastic – but when you look a little closer, it’s just as superficial as the rest of Caruso’s campaign.
This is not the first time that Caruso had considered running for mayor – back in 2012, he was a Republican who changed his affiliation to independent. He switched back in 2016 to support the long-shot candidate of Ohio Governor John Kasich in the Republican primary election against Donald Trump. It was not until January that Caruso resigned as a Democrat, something he had to do to be able to run in Tuesday’s primary election.
Praise from people like Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elon Musk, Wolfgang Puck and (most surprisingly) Snoop Dogg seems genuine and enthusiastic.
Caruso has gained ground with his promise to clean up the city’s streets in a campaign that has been compared to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his “broken windows” policies in the 1990s. (It is worth noting that the NYPD found “no evidence” that a decrease in crime during that period could be attributed to the increase in police efforts against minor offenses.) The billionaire’s plan for Los Angeles involves growing the city’s police department to 11,000 officers, bigger than it has ever been.
He has also said he would declare an “emergency” for homelessness in the city, allowing him to bypass the Los Angeles City Council in addressing the estimated 41,000 uninhabited people in LA. To be fair, the policies that Caruso recommends go beyond just removing camps. He has said he would expand Project Roomkey, a program that started during the pandemic to turn unused hotels and motels into shelters for the uninhabited. He has also promised to double the number of shelters available, build about 30,000 in less than a year and to quadruple the number of small houses in the city.
But some of Caruso’s promises have made the public wonder: “How is it going to work?” For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, the LAPD currently has about 9,352 officers, and thanks to an “administrative logjam and recruitment battles,” that number will not be significantly higher next year. Caruso told the Times that to overcome this obstacle he would “reduce ‘the time it takes to vet candidates’ and consider offering signing bonuses to new officers.” (Because if there is anything a department with such a dark history of brutality that the LAPD needs, it’s even less thorough examination of candidates.)
Likewise, New York Times columnist Jay Caspian Kang recently wrote that Caruso “promises the world to both sides” in the debate over how to address homelessness. For those who believe that substance abuse and mental health are the most important determinants, he has promised to set up a “department of mental health and addiction treatment.” For those who believe housing shortages are mainly to blame, he has “called for an extension of permanent supportive housing and rental protection and says he will ask the federal government to triple the number of Section 8 coupons that help. struggling families to afford the rent. ”
But, Kang points out, Caruso’s “plans for the homeless require a fleet of civilian and nonprofit workers that do not exist. The current mobilization against homelessness across the state has experienced severe staff shortages, something I wrote about in March. The shortage reflects a very sober reality: It’s hard to find a lot of people who want to deal with the emotional and physical work of working with homeless people. “
Which brings us back to Caruso’s celebrities, most of whom at least say their support is based on his policies. “When it comes to my hometown and there are people who can really make a difference, I think he can really help with the crime in our city, which is such a big issue,” Kardashian said in an Instagram story. Snoop also said in a Zoom call, where he announced his support: “We are part of whatever you are a part of in terms of bringing love to the community and keeping people there who were part of the community.”
Snoop and Kardashian and other celebrity supporters are in partnership with Caruso because they are really, really rich.
But Snoop and Kardashian and other well-known supporters are in partnership with Caruso because they are really, really rich. Many have spent time in the same social circles, especially Paltrow, who is a “neighbor and longtime friend,” according to Variety. (She also has a Goop storefront at the Carusos resort, where other followers who co-Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos and music mogul Scooter Braun are members.)
The wealth they have accumulated has enabled many of his celebrities to escape precisely the problems that Caruso is running on. Instead of living in Los Angeles itself, their home is mostly in different cities around Los Angeles County: Kardashian lives in Hidden Hills, located next to Calabasas, where her mother (and Caruso approver) Kris Jenner ought to; Snoop lives in Diamond Bar. Paltrow does not even live in the county – she lives in Montecito, which is part of Santa Barbara County. That they weigh in on this race from within their closed society exudes great “She does not even go here!” energy.
It also means that very few of the celebrities who stand for Caruso would actually be under his jurisdiction if he became mayor. His power would stop at the city limits – or even briefly for them, as there are several municipalities whose authority extends within the boundaries of Los Angeles itself. And you have to wonder if these Caruso fans would support the construction of his proposed permanent residence to address homelessness within the city limits of their own rich enclaves – they should, but my guess is that they would definitely does not.
On the way to Tuesday’s election, Caruso was virtually tied with his top rival, Representative Karen Bass, D-Calif., A black progressive who was on Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president during the 2020 presidential election. Bass has a small lead according to a new poll from the LA Times and the University of California – Berkeley. None of them are likely to get the 50 percent of the vote required to avoid a departure in November, which means Angelenos are likely to spend much more time being told about Caruso’s goodness of celebrities not living in Los Angeles. Angeles.
The mind overturns by trying to imagine how much money Caruso is likely to have spent at the end of this race. Almost as astonishing is the fact that several Hollywood elites – including Paltrow – have thrown money at Caruso. Imagine this: Supposedly to rectify the homelessness crisis, these wealthy individuals have chosen to give to a billionaire who is more than capable of financing his own campaign. There is a real disconnect here between the world that Caruso’s followers live in and the one that will actually feel the impact of the “law and order” that he promises to restore.