Ramit Varma exits mayoral race, endorses Caruso

Encino tech entrepreneur had spent $4 million of his own money in bid to become "new kind of mayor.”

Former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Ramit Varma iStock, votevarma.com)
Former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Ramit Varma iStock, votevarma.com)

Tech businessman Ramit Varma, who spent $4 million of his own money to run for Los Angeles mayor, has dropped out of a diminishing field.

Varma, the latest to exit the mayoral race, lent his support to billionaire developer Rick Caruso two weeks before the June 7 primary, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

He’d launched his campaign last fall with a bang, renting out the Banc of California Stadium for 400 people, where he’d promised to cut government waste, end homelessness and bring a data-driven approach to City Hall.

He plastered billboards across the city, promising “A New Kind of Mayor.”

But in the end, the Encino entrepreneur’s largely self-funded campaign struggled to match the $30 million self-paid campaign of Caruso, or the political support of Rep. Karen Bass, the two frontrunners in the mayoral primary.

The co-founder of the online tutoring firm Revolution Prep had loaned himself $4 million, but it wasn’t enough. In an April poll by U.C. Berkeley, just 1 percent of people surveyed said they’d vote for Varma.

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With little name recognition in a city of 2.1 million registered voters, he was forced to withdraw his hat from the ring and toss his support to Caruso

Varma said he agreed with the fellow businessman that Los Angeles should be “safe, affordable and clean.”

He told the Daily News he was “incredibly impressed by (Caruso’s) thoughtfulness, drive and genuine desire to fix problems in L.A.– and build a plan for growth that will last us for decades.”

His departure follows that of City Attorney Mike Feuer, who threw his support behind Bass, and City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who cast his support for Caruso. Like Varma, both had polled in the low single digits.

That leaves nine candidates vying to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, with Caruso and Bass running neck-and-neck with about 25 percent of support from likely voters, according to the most recent polls, with Councilman Kevin de León coming in at a distant third. About 40 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

[Los Angeles Daily News] – Dana Bartholomew

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Candidate Rick Caruso, Councilman Joe Buscaino and Los Angeles City Hall (Rick Caruso, Joe Buscaino, iStock, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)
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