By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
While the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom has topped headlines in California politics, flying just under the radar is the effort to draft Congresswoman Karen Bass for Los Angeles mayor.
“As we struggle just in the city of L.A. and just in our own communities to do that, I think she would really be a very key person to bring together the city on our issues,” said Rachel Brashier, who organized the #KarenBassforMayor online campaign by the California Black Women’s Democratic Club.
The Daily News of Los Angeles reported that Bass, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has seen her name come up in behind-the-scenes discussions around the city’s mayoral race.
The congresswoman’s office declined to comment.
California residents have started to vote in the recall election of Newsom.
Officials have set September 14 as the date for the recall election. If removed, Newsom would join Gray Davis as recent Democratic California governors recalled.
Residents voted to recall Davis in 2003.
But while most of the attention in the Golden State’s has focused on Newsom’s fate, a grassroots effort picks up to put Congresswoman Bass in the mayor’s office.
“The online campaign is meant to further a conversation that had begun percolating behind the scenes about how politically savvy Angelenos could get involved in the local races,” Elizabeth Chou wrote for the Daily News.
That conversation began coalescing around Bass in late July, according to Molly Watson, another executive board member of the Democratic club.
Watson told Chou that the Democratic club and others involved in local politics had been looking at the mayoral race and gauging if they were interested in becoming more engaged.
“But for some time, those conversations did not gather much momentum. Different names came up, but none seemed to pique serious interest,” Chou reported.
Around the end of [July], Bass’ name bubbled up among local Democratic clubs and progressive circles.
At the same time, Watson told Chou that she heard the congresswoman’s name brought up in donor conversations.
Initially, there was concern about Bass giving up an important seat in Congress, but Watson said she has always understood Bass as someone who mentored others and paid attention to a succession plan.
“She’s not someone who will outstay a seat,” Watson told the Daily News.
“She knows it’s important that we have people who know how to retire from different positions, and so that all started to make sense for me.”
Poll researcher Paul Maslin told the Daily News that Bass led a recent survey among 800 voters.
A political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, Jack Pitney added that given Bass’ political chops, she would be a “very formidable candidate” if she were to run.
Bass proved her political skills in the state Assembly and is “very well respected across the political spectrum,” he told the newspaper.
“Right now, she is a respected member of the majority and has considerable influence (but) if the Democrats are in the minority (should mid-term elections go poorly for the party), she will be largely a spectator,” Pitney said. “That’s not a lot of fun.”
“The basic calculation for her is: stay in the House and face the possibility of minority status, or run for mayor, and take on all the slings and arrows that come with the job,” he said.
“It’s not really an easy choice.”
The L.A. mayor’s job is a “tough” one, and it doesn’t come with as much authority as “a mayor would like,” Pitney noted.
“Anybody who runs for mayor has to grapple with a lot of inherited problems — homelessness, being perhaps the most visible, (and) violent crime,” he said.
“Basically, quality of life issues. And that’s difficult. That’s not a fun job.”
But he said that Bass seems like someone who is “very tough-minded. She has never been afraid of a challenge, which may be why she will decide to do it, but it would be very understandable if she didn’t.”