Billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso filed papers to join the crowded race for mayor of Los Angeles on Friday, running as a Democrat, bringing new drama to a field currently led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).

Caruso is known around town for his high-end shopping malls, such as The Grove in Beverly Hills and Palisades Village in Pacific Palisades. He has been involved in local governance issues for many years, and he is a prominent philanthropist, donating to Catholic schools.

He was once a Republican, but became an independent more than ten years ago before joining the Democrats recently.

As the Los Angeles Times reported:

Forbes has pegged Caruso’s net worth at $4.3 billion. … His candidacy has drawn comparisons to that of Richard Riordan, the Republican businessman who was elected as mayor in 1993.

Caruso was a Republican for decades before switching in 2011 to no party preference. Upon changing his registration in January, he described himself as a “pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat.”

Even with the switch in registration, Caruso’s conservative history will likely loom large over the race. The central question remains whether Los Angeles — a city that has grown far more progressive and diverse in recent decades — has the stomach to put a billionaire former Republican in charge.

Guerra said that even a few months ago his answer would have been “absolutely not.” But, he continued, “the narrative with homelessness and crime has really shifted.”

Caruso’s conservative past may not be enough to win Republican votes. Many remember that Caruso banned boxing legend Manny Pacquiao from The Grove for his public opposition to same-sex marriage, and that he banned then-candidate Donald Trump from the property as well, before lifting the ban when Trump actually won in 2016.

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