Karen Bass

Mayor of Los Angeles since 2022 (born 1953)

Karen Ruth Bass (born October 3, 1953) is an American politician who is the Mayor of Los Angeles. She was the U.S. Representative for California's 37th congressional district from 2013 to 2022. A Democrat, she previously represented the 33rd congressional district from 2011 to 2013.

Karen Bass
Official portrait, 2022
43rd Mayor of Los Angeles
Assumed office
December 11, 2022
Preceded byEric Garcetti
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byCedric Richmond
Succeeded byJoyce Beatty
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
January 3, 2011 – December 12, 2022
Preceded byDiane Watson
Succeeded bySydney Kamlager
Constituency33rd district (2011–2013)
37th district (2013–2022)
67th Speaker of the California Assembly
In office
May 13, 2008 – March 1, 2010
Preceded byFabian Núñez
Succeeded byJohn Pérez
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 47th district
In office
December 6, 2004 – November 30, 2010
Preceded byHerb Wesson
Succeeded byHolly Mitchell
Personal details
Karen Ruth Bass

(1953-10-03) October 3, 1953 (age 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Jesus Lechuga
(m. 1980; div. 1986)
Children5, including 4 stepchildren
WebsiteHouse website

Bass represented the 47th district in the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010. She served as the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly (2008–2010), and was the second woman and the third African American to be Speaker.[6][7] Since 2019, Bass has also served as the chair of the Black Congressional Caucus.[8][9]

Bass was a possible candidate to become Joe Biden's vice-presidential running mate in the 2020 election.[10] In September 2021, Bass announced her retirement from the U.S. House in order to run for Mayor of Los Angeles. She won the mayoral election in November 2022, becoming the first female mayor and the second black mayor of the city.

Early life, education, and medical career


Bass was born in Los Angeles, California. Her parents were Wilhelmina (née Duckett) and DeWitt Talmadge Bass.[11] Her father was a letter carrier.[4] She was raised in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and went to Alexander Hamilton High School (Los Angeles). She studied philosophy at San Diego State University (1971–1973). Then, she got a B.S. in health sciences from California State University, Dominguez Hills (1990).[12]

Bass worked as a physician assistant and as a clinical instructor at the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.[13] Bass also founded Community Coalition, an organization in South Los Angeles. Later on, in 2015, Bass earned a Master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California (USC).[14]

California Assembly


As the Assemblymember for the 37th district, Bass served the cities and communities of Culver City, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, the Crenshaw District, Little Ethiopia and parts of Koreatown and South Los Angeles.[15]



She was a part of Barack Obama's national African American Leadership Council. She also served as a california co-chair of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Speaker Fabian Núñez appointed Bass California State Assembly Majority Whip (2005–2006) and Majority Floor Leader for the 2007–2008 legislative session. She was chair of the Select Committee on Foster Care and vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.[6]

As chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, she ordered a report to research the basic demographic profile of black californians. The report included their basic social and economic conditions.[16] The State of Black California report included a statewide organizing effort to involve black californians in identifying their concerns and making legislative recommendations.[17]

After the defeat of Proposition 93, Speaker Fabian Núñez left the Assembly at the end of the 2007-2008 session because of term limits. As the next-highest-ranking Democrat in the Assembly, Bass was in a good position to take the role. After gaining the support of some other Legislators who had also been seeking the Speakership, Bass was elected Speaker on February 28, 2008 and then sworn in as Speaker on May 13.[18]

After she left the Speaker's office, Bass was named Speaker Emeritus.[19]

U.S. House of Representatives




Bass could not run for reelection in the California Assembly 2010 due to term limits. On February 18, 2010, she confirmed that she would run to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Diane Watson in California's 33rd congressional district.[20] Bass won the election with over 86% of the vote, beating Republican James Andion on November 2, 2010.[21]

In 2012 she had no primary opponent, and won the general election with 86%.[4] She raised $692,988.53 and spent $803,966.15, leaving $52,384.92 on hand and a debt of $3,297.59.[22]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on the Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
    • Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations[4]
  • Committee on Foreign Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights (Chair)[4][23]
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Caucus memberships

  • American Sikh Congressional Caucus
  • Congressional Black Caucus[24]
  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus[25]
  • United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus[26]

2020 U.S. presidential election


In July 2020, Bass was discussed as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.[27][28][29]

2022 Los Angeles mayoral election


In September 2021, Bass announced her plans to run for Mayor of Los Angeles in the 2022 election.[30][31]

Bass won the election, beating real estate businessman Rick Caruso, to become the first woman and second black mayor of Los Angeles.[32][33][34][35]

Political positions


Bass is generally considered a liberal, with ratings of 100% or close from liberal interest group capitol Weekly Positions. Conservative groups like the California Republican Assembly Positions have consistently awarded her a 0%.[22]

Bass is a very strong supporter of gun control. Her National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund Lifetime Score is an F. The Gun Owners of California Positions on Gun Rights have also given Bass an F. Congresswoman Bass recently has voted against the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act that would reduce general gun control laws. In 2010, while campaigning for Congress Bass supported the expanded firearm registration bill. That bill, with other rules, would have made all gun dealers report their sales to the Department of Justice.[22][36]

Bass has spoken against President Trump's national emergency declaration in 2019.[37]

Bass, once considered a social liberal, has seen her ratings go down with LGBT organizations. She once had a 100% rating with the Human Rights Campaign[38] but now ranks below most Democrats with a score of 88%.[39] She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[40]

Personal life


From 1980 to 1986, Bass was married to Jesus Lechuga. Following their divorce, Bass and Lechuga raised their daughter and four stepchildren together.[41]

Bass suffered the death of her only child, daughter Emilia Wright, and her son-in-law Michael Wright, in a car accident in 2006.[42]


  1. "California Assembly District 47". California Assembly. July 7, 2008. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  2. "Full Biography | Congresswoman Karen Bass". U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  3. "Karen Bass – Archives of Women's Political Communication". Archives of Women's Political Communication. Iowa State University. Retrieved October 1, 2013. Bass was born October 3, 1953, and raised in Los Angeles. She attended San Diego State University from 1971–1973 and graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1990 with a bachelor of science in health sciences.[permanent dead link]swimming pool accident attorney
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Barone, Michael; Chuck McCutcheon (2013). The Almanac of American Politics 2014. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 243–245. ISBN 978-0-226-10544-4. Copyright National Journal.
  5. "Aztec Action Network". San Diego State University. Retrieved October 2, 2013. Residence: Los Angeles[permanent dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vogel, Nancy (February 28, 2008). "L.A. woman to follow Nunez". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  7. "African American Speakers of the California". Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  8. Jones, LaMont (January 3, 2019). "Largest-Ever Congressional Black Caucus Sworn In". Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.
  9. Roberts, Nigel (January 3, 2019). "The Blue Wave Of Black Politicians Gets Sworn In". NewsOne.
  10. "Karen Bass rises as sleeper pick to be Biden's VP". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  11. "Karen Bass ancestry". RootsWeb. Archived from the original on September 6, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  12. Young, Kerry (November 6, 2010). "112th Congress: Karen Bass, D-Calif. (33rd District)". Congressional Quarterly.[permanent dead link]
  13. "About Karen". KarenBass.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  14. "About Us". Community Coalition. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  15. "California's 37th Congressional District - CA-37 Representatives & District Map". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  16. Bass, Karen. "The State of Black California" (PDF). February 2007. California Democratic Caucus. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  17. Samad, Anthony Asadullah. "Between the lines". February 8, 2007. The Black Commentator. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  18. Yi, Matthew (February 29, 2008). "L.A. lawmaker first African American woman to lead state Assembly". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  19. "Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass". California State Assembly Democratic Caucus. November 17, 2010. Archived from the original on November 17, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  20. Merl, Jean (February 18, 2010). "Karen Bass confirms candidacy for seat in Congress". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  21. Van Oot, Torey (November 3, 2010). "Bass, Denham win seats in Congress". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "Representative Karen Bass' Campaign Finances - Project Vote Smart". Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  23. "Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations - House Foreign Affairs Committee". House.gov. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  24. "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  25. "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  26. "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  27. Thomas, Ken; Wise, Lindsay (July 31, 2020). "Biden Considers Karen Bass, Lawmaker Known as Team Player, in Running-Mate Search". WSJ. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  28. Ronayne, Kathleen (July 31, 2020). "'Building bridges': How Bass became a leading VP contender". AP News. Retrieved August 1, 2020. After George Floyd's killing by police, she led Democratic efforts on legislation to overhaul law enforcement, a push that prompted Biden's team to take her more seriously as a potential running mate.
  29. "Joe Biden narrows down his VP list, with Karen Bass emerging as one of several key contenders" (CNN, July 31, 2020)
  30. Chou, Elizabeth; Carter, Ryan (September 27, 2021). "It's official: Rep. Karen Bass is running for mayor of LA". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  31. Axelrod, Tal (September 27, 2021). "Bass officially enters Los Angeles mayor's race". The Hill. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  32. Chou, Elizabeth; Carter, Ryan (September 27, 2021). "It's official: Rep. Karen Bass is running for mayor of LA". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  33. Axelrod, Tal (September 27, 2021). "Bass officially enters Los Angeles mayor's race". The Hill. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  34. Wick, Julia (November 16, 2022). "Karen Bass elected, becoming L.A.'s first woman mayor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  35. Blood, Michael R. (November 16, 2022). "LA elects US Rep Karen Bass mayor, first Black woman in post". Associated Press. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  36. "Foreign Policy". Karen Bass. Archived from the original on December 13, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  37. "Immigration Reform". Congresswoman Karen Bass. Retrieved 2019-02-28.[permanent dead link]
  38. "Congressional Scorecard".
  39. https://assets.hrc.org//files/assets/resources/114thCongressionalScorecard.pdf?_ga=2.99066590.1108067685.1507945042-1174069916.1502316348
  40. "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  41. "Karen Bass Makes United States History as the first African American Woman to be named to Speaker of (sic)". The Black Voice News. Riverside, California: Brown Publishing Company. March 6, 2008. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  42. Silverstein, Stuart (October 31, 2006). "Couple die in crash on 405". Los Angeles Times.

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