L.A. mayoral primary turnout rises as Bass widens lead over Caruso

L.A. mayoral candidates Rick Caruso and Karen Bass on election night.
L.A. mayoral candidates Rick Caruso and Karen Bass on election night. (Los Angeles Times; Associated Press)
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Turnout in the Los Angeles mayoral primary, which will see Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso move to a November runoff, appears to have come in higher than years past.

With nearly all ballots counted as of Tuesday afternoon's update, turnout had reached about 30% of registered voters in the city of Los Angeles. That's up from 20% in the 2017 primary, when Mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection with 81% of the vote.

Countywide turnout was 28.4%, and officials said the vast majority of this latest batch of about 43,000 ballots came from people who had voted by mail.

Bass' lead over Caruso has grown as election workers processed ballots that were either dropped off in the days leading up to the primary or postmarked and mailed in by election day. On election night, Bass trailed Caruso by 5 percentage points.

The latest results show Bass' lead growing slightly, winning 43% of votes to Caruso's 36%.

Left to be counted are ballots that need to be verified or have potential issues with the voter signature cured, or corrected.

The L.A. County registrar-recorder's office estimated about 13,800 ballots are left to be counted before certifying the results July 1. This was the first city election since a new law went into effect ensuring that every voter is mailed a ballot, a process designed to bring in more voters and focus less on a single day of in-person voting.

Two candidates challenging incumbents on the Los Angeles City Council also increased their vote shares in the latest count.

Community activist Eunisses Hernandez now leads Councilman Gil Cedillo 54% to 46%. She declared victory over the weekend, saying she and her supporters had "done what many people told us would be impossible."

“The people of [Council District 1] have spoken, calling for change by voting to prioritize affordable housing, investments in our elders and young people, and support for renters," she said in a statement.

"I’m incredibly proud of the amazing work our campaign team and countless volunteers did to connect with CD1 residents."

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell lost more ground to labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez in Council District 13, which takes in all or parts of Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Atwater Village. Soto-Martinez is at 40.6% to O’Farrell’s 31.7%; they will face each other in a runoff in November.

In the race for Los Angeles city attorney, attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto leapfrogged former prosecutor Marina Torres and is now in second place behind civil rights attorney Faisal Gill. Before Tuesday's update, Feldstein Soto trailed Torres by 173 votes; she now leads Torres by 351 votes, with 19.9% support. Gill tops the field with 24.2% of votes; the top two will head to a November runoff.

In the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, incumbent Alex Villanueva’s lead on retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna remained about the same, with Villanueva at 30.7% and Luna at 25.9%. They will face each other again this fall.

L.A. school board President Kelly Gonez is headed to a runoff against Marvin Rodríguez to keep her seat, while the open seat in District 2 will go to a runoff between Rocio Rivas and Maria Brenes.

In the only race for an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and West Hollywood Councilmember Lindsey Horvath clinched their spots in the November runoff election to represent the 3rd District. Hertzberg received 31% of votes, while Horvath got 28%. They finished ahead of four other candidates, including state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Malibu), who had 24% of the votes as of Tuesday.

Times staff writers Jeong Park and Dakota Smith contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.