December 9, 2022 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Column: The Sixty Million Dollar Man!

Caruso’s crushing ad buy obliterates all spending records by one candidate for the office of Mayor of LA

By Nick Antonicello

If money is what really matters, Rick Caruso should win in landslide come Election Day.  

For the Caruso for Mayor campaign is unrivaled, unbridled and unprecedented in the saturation level of spending to become LA’s next chief executive.

With spending now at $62 million and most of it his own cash, Caruso has taken self-funding to a new level as he takes a page out of the Michael Bloomberg playbook who served three terms as mayor of New York City and a misguided run for the presidency in 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Bloomberg spent $188 million on his presidential campaign, including $132 million on television ads, $8.2 million on digital ads, $3.3 million on polling, $1.5 million on rent, and $757,000 on airfare, including $646,000 for a private jet. By the end of January 2020, Bloomberg spent $300 million on his campaign and by February 2020 had exceeded $500 million. This caused the total spending in the presidential primary on behalf of all candidates to exceed $1 billion by February, an unprecedented figure for such an early point in a US presidential election.

According to the New York Times, Bloomberg spent $102 million to win his third and final term as mayor of The Big Apple.

For the Caruso mayoral campaign is unusual indeed, as he spent $21 million in a 12-week period against a candidate who lacks the personal resources to compete despite a lifetime of running for elective office at the local, state and federal levels.

The Caruso campaign reminds me of the 1970’s television show, “The Six Million Dollar Man,” which starred Lee Majors as Colonel Steve Austin, a rebuilt superhuman cyborg, who was a mixture of man and machine.

While Austin was part machine and part man, Rick Caruso is all about money and talk just takes the bus. For his spending over the final month of this non-partisan race could have Caruso spending close to $100 million dollars for a job he wants to do for free!

In this round of spending, Caruso is running two spots, one pushing his agenda on homelessness in a more compassionate fashion than the hard-hitting spots last Spring while taking aim on Bass for a speech she gave at a Scientology event caught on video.

The footage emerged of the California Democrat speaking at a ceremony for a renovated Scientology church in Los Angeles when she served as speaker of the California State Assembly.

The Daily Caller first reported the video’s existence.

In her remarks, Bass called on treating humans with respect and fighting oppression, but also spoke highly of the controversial group and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

“The Church of Scientology, I know, has made a difference, because your creed is a universal creed and one that speaks to all people everywhere,” Bass said before an audience of some 6,000 attendees. “That is why the words are exciting of your Founder L. Ron Hubbard, in the creed of the Church of Scientology: That all people of whatever race, color or creed are created with equal rights.”

This video is now at the heart of Caruso’s current ad buy that was all over the broadcast dial and aired specifically during Sunday NFL games and certainly was designed to cut away from the Bass double-digit lead in the polls.

We’ll know more this week how effective this issue is for the apparently surging Caruso candidacy.

But if it is money that only matters, why was the $40 million spent in the primary only able to secure a distant, second-place finish where Bass would have probably won on a first ballot had Caruso not overwhelmed her with this kind of monopoly of the air waves?

Then the strategy was to hold her to a runoff and take his chances in a one-on-one battle?

In response, Bass had this to say about her inability to compete dollar for dollar with her billionaire developer opponent.

“Rick Caruso has spent more than $60 million to cover up his anti-choice Republican past and shamelessly mislead voters about who I am. He has proven he will do and say anything to attack me and my character to narrow the gap in this race.

“Our campaign is rooted in shared Democratic values — especially choice — and a firm belief that together, we can solve homelessness and make Los Angeles safe and affordable for everyone.

“I will continue working to earn every vote by sharing my experience and my comprehensive plans to get big things done for Los Angeles.”

One must be asking because I am, what does Scientology, political party registration or abortion rights have to do with running the nation’s second largest city?

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian covering the race for mayor from a Venice perspective. Have a take or a tip? Contact Antonicello online via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

in Opinion
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