How Karen Bass prevailed against Rick Caruso’s $100-million campaign
A former aide to the late Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott tells the story of his time with the Alabama Republican and his failed bid for the Democratic Senate nomination this year – and it’s a story that could inspire Democrats to run for statewide office in 2018.
(Published Friday, May 11, 2018)
By Joe Perticone
With her family’s money and no political experience, Karen Bass used her social media presence and the support of her celebrity husband, singer Tony Bennett, to make a point that even Republicans may not comprehend: The Democratic Party needs to take a look at its most ardent liberal constituency – the millennials – who are increasingly becoming its future voters.
On Friday, she lost in an intense and expensive battle with Rick Caruso for the Democratic nomination for Senate against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones. The defeat was especially crushing as Bass was not only a candidate in the Democratic primary – she was hoping to face Jones in November’s general election.
Bass had amassed considerable financial resources and a powerful social media presence to back up her argument that the Senate needs to take a look at the challenges facing young voters, whose numbers have rapidly increased under President Donald Trump.
Here’s a conversation with Bass, Bennett, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee:
Q: Karen, when I read your story in the Washington Post, I thought it was very compelling – that you are a political newcomer who came from outside the political world – and you overcame that to run for the Senate. Can you walk me through the journey of that first campaign, and what it was like for you?
A: It was not something that I had ever thought about. But I have been in politics for a lot of years and never had a race with the Democratic Party. And with the Republican Party, you’re not supposed to run for the Senate in Mississippi. It was never in the plan. But that was the way that it worked out for me. I think I met Rick Caruso – they are good friends – and he asked if I could do that. And I said, no, it’s ridiculous to have me run for the Senate. But he said, “You have to meet and see what it’ll take to get out of