Councilman Joe Buscaino drops out of LA mayoral race, endorses businessman Rick Caruso

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- City Councilman Joe Buscaino on Thursday announced he is dropping out of the Los Angeles mayoral race and endorsing billionaire developer Rick Caruso.

"Rick and I agree on the playbook to solve the city's pressing issues," Buscaino said in a statement. "Today's decision did not come easy, but the future of Los Angeles is my priority. Together we will make Los Angeles cleaner and safer for all."

Buscaino, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, launched his bid for mayor on Feb. 8, campaigning on a plan to clean up the city and put an end to homeless encampments.

During his campaign, he said that if elected he would bring accountability to the city's existing programs to combat homelessness, meaning consequences for those who refuse help and for elected officials who don't achieve results.

"If folks who are in dangerous encampments refuse to go into a safer location, options are get treated, go into drug addiction programs," Buscaino said on April 25. "As a last resort, we have to have arrest or citation on the table. We haven't arrested one soul for being homeless."

In a poll released last month, Caruso held a 1-percentage-point lead over fellow candidate Rep. Karen Bass.

Caruso's strong polling at the time came as he had flooded the television and digital markets with millions of dollars in advertisements, while Bass had yet to air any television ads. Bass' campaign released its first TV ad on Monday.

"I have tremendous respect for Joe and his deep commitment to the people of Los Angeles," Caruso said in a statement Thursday. "I'm honored to have his endorsement and look forward to his counsel on issues like homelessness and criminal justice. Los Angeles is suffering and working with Joe, I know we can clean up LA."

According to the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, the top issue influencing voters was homelessness, cited at 61% of likely voters.

The primary for the mayoral election will take place on June 7, with the top two finishers squaring off in the election on Nov. 8.

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