- The little-known candidate who poured his own money into the campaign, had promised to be “A New Kind of Mayor.”
Entrepreneur Ramit Varma dropped out of the Los Angeles mayoral race earlier this week and has endorsed leading candidate Rick Caruso. In a letter posted on his website, Varma wrote that although he and Caruso “have very different backgrounds and experiences,” he found that the two were “united by a common purpose” – the desire to want Los Angeles to be “a city that is safe, affordable and clean. A city that our children and decades to come can be proud of.” Varma ran as an Independent and was not tied to any political party or any special interest.
The Los Angeles Times described Varma as “a little-known candidate who poured $4 million of his own money into the mayoral race.” The Indian American, who promised to be “A New Kind of Mayor,” had “a handful of campaign billboards plastered around the city.” the LA Times added.
Varma moved to Los Angeles to study for his MBA at UCLA in 2000. “I fell in love with LA almost immediately,” he told Ventura Blvd. He then co-founded Revolution Prep, an online tutoring platform dedicated to making tutoring more effective and higher education more attainable for America’s youth. He built a company from the ground up centered around giving kids and young adults more opportunities to succeed in life. Headquartered in Santa Monica since its 2002 beginnings, Revolution Prep was at one point named the fastest-growing education company in Los Angeles and is recognized for its extensive array of test prep courses — particularly for the SAT, ACT and PSAT tests.
He told Venture Blvd that he had his first experience with the city government during his wedding. Instead of the customary horse, Varma wanted to ride an elephant in his wedding procession. So he rode down Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica on an elephant to his wedding ceremony. “I had to get about 30 people to sign off on the event,” he recalled. Police were worried the elephant would freak out. The fire department had to make sure we weren’t blocking any routes, and sanitation had to make sure the elephant had a poop bag. It was one of my first experiences with city government.”
He and his wife Delphine have three kids.
Varma’s move comes a little less than two weeks after Councilmember Joe Buscaino dropped out of the race and endorsed Caruso, after which Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer ended his campaign last week and endorsed Rep. Karen Bass last week, the LA Times reported.
Earlier in February, Indian American business leader Jessica Lall dropped out of the Los Angeles mayoral race. She ended her brief campaign on Feb. 8, saying she believed “the mark of a good leader was being brave enough to step in, but also “wise enough to know when to step back.” She got into the race because the city “is in crisis – from rising homelessness and crime to decreasing affordability and opportunity.
Currently, Bass and Caruso are the clear frontrunners in the race to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, the LA Times noted. Other candidates still in the race include Councilmember Kevin de León, activist Gina Viola, former Metro board member Mel Wilson and former public relations executive Craig Greiwe.
Current mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection in March of 2017 for a five-and-a-half-year term. He is term-limited, and the election for his successor is scheduled for fall 2022. Last July, President Biden nominated Garcetti as Ambassador to India. However, his confirmation is increasingly looking doubtful.
On Jan 12, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Garcetti’s nomination and now awaits confirmation by a full Senate. But the president’s pick is facing resistance not only from the GOP but from a few Democrats as well “over his professed lack of knowledge about sexual assault and harassment allegations against a top adviser,” as reported by Politico. And without full party unity, the Los Angeles mayor might not make it as envoy to the world’s biggest democracy.