Rick Caruso, the developer of the Grove, is taking some preliminary, behind-the-scenes steps toward running for mayor of Los Angeles.

Media buyers working on Caruso's behalf have called in recent days to check on rates for TV commercial time in November, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Caruso has not reserved any time yet. But his media buyer was interested in hitting the broadcast airwaves shortly after the Nov. 6 presidential election, according to the sources.

Caruso's political adviser, Matt Middlebrook, declined to comment. “I don't have anything to say about it,” he said.

It's not clear whether Caruso has decided to run or is just keeping his options open. The deadline to file for the March 2013 primary is Nov. 10.

Caruso is the only wild card left in the race. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky announced last month that he will not run. The other major candidates — Councilman Eric Garcetti, Councilwoman Jan Perry, Controller Wendy Greuel and former radio host Kevin James — have been in the race for more than a year.

Caruso has kept a low profile since giving a feisty speech last year in which he attacked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council, and described L.A. Unified as an “educational gulag.” Earlier this year, he switched his party registration from Republican to “decline to state,” which would make it easier to run in heavily Democratic L.A.

Caruso has never held elected office, but he has served on city commissions since he was in his 20s. Most notably, he served on the Police Commission when it voted — in line with Mayor James Hahn — not to renew Bernard Parks' contract as police chief.

A private poll taken last fall showed Caruso starting out well behind the top two candidates, Garcetti and Greuel, and tied with  Perry. Caruso, however, would be able to boost his profile by drawing on his considerable fortune, much the way that Mayor Richard Riordan did in the fall of 1992.

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