Richard Riordan, L.A.’s last Republican mayor, endorses Rick Caruso

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has endorsed developer Rick Caruso for mayor, according to a release Caruso’s campaign sent out Thursday.

The last Republican to serve in the role, Riordan ran a similar campaign to Caruso — a billionaire former Republican who is now running as a Democrat focused on public safety and making the city more hospitable for business.

“Mayor Riordan is both a role model and an inspiration. I am grateful to have his and Elizabeth’s support. Mayor Richard Riordan’s legacy motivates me as I campaign across this city every day,” Caruso said in a statement.

In the run-up to the launch of Caruso’s campaign, which shook up the mayoral race, many involved in Los Angeles politics invoked fellow businessman Riordan, now 92, saying parallels to the early 1990s made the time ripe for a person who has not held an elected post to run for mayor.

Riordan was elected in 1993 at a time when Los Angeles faced economic and social upheaval, including the decline of the aerospace industry, the beating of Black motorist Rodney King and the deadly uprising that followed the LAPD officers’ acquittal.

The city is more racially diverse and more heavily Democratic now. Caruso’s campaign has focused on the upticks in crime and homelessness. He has pledged to clear encampments, expand various forms of shelter and make the city cleaner and safer.

Like Riordan, Caruso has also tapped his vast and larger personal fortune to bankroll his campaign. Riordan, who couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday evening, put $6 million of his own money into his successful 1993 campaign, equivalent to just under $12 million in 2022 dollars after adjusting for inflation. Only half of that was spent during the primary.

Caruso has already poured more than $30 million into his candidacy — much of that has already been spent on political advertisements.

The message of these ads has been relatively simple: “I’m running for mayor, because I love L.A. Starting Day 1, we’re going to get it cleaned up. … And we’re going to do it together.”

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