Ultimately, Chesa Boudin’s progressive politics didn’t sit well with San Francisco at a time when residents are increasingly concerned about crime and ubiquitous homelessness.
That message was loud and clear after voters approved a recall to remove Mr Boudin from office, less than three years after he was elected to office as part of a progressive effort to transform the criminal justice system in a city known as a left bastion.
With 45% of the vote counted on Wednesday EDT, the “yes” vote to recall Mr Boudin had a 60.5% majority.
David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University, said Mr. Boudin “became the poster child for everything wrong with Democrats, big cities, the works” and said the big takeaway is voters feeling the government fails to fulfill a primary mission: to maintain order and security.
“Even in deep blue California, the need to feel safe and know that your political leaders are behind you will trump any desire to take the progressive path toward defoundation. [the police] and to the loss of the ability to run a city,” said Mr. McCuan.
“Democrats need to think about more than why they are so bad at polling crime issues and how to deal with them in big cities,” said Mr. McCuan.
It was a somewhat similar story just over 400 miles south, where Karen Bass’ high hopes of becoming the next mayor of Los Angeles has turned into a dogfight against billionaire developer Rick Caruso, a Republican turned Democrat.
With 14% of the vote counted two hours after polls closed, Mr. Caruso had 41% of the vote against Ms. Bass’s 38% and no other candidate in double digits.
Under the rules of the all-party California “jungle primary,” the top two candidates will face each other in November unless someone gets a 50% majority of the vote — a scenario that was extremely unlikely early Wednesday. seemed.
The result adds to a feeling that the political future of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, another proud progressive, is in limbo as critics push for his recall.
Taken together, the results, set in the political backyard of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, exposed voters’ growing discontent with the liberal Democrats who have run California’s cities for decades.
The situation will certainly add fuel to the Democratic struggle within the party over what will happen after a 2020 election, when calls from the far left to “pay for the police” opened the door for Republicans to view the entire party as weak. crime, despite President Biden’s rejections of that idea.
Other Democratic commentators have said the backlash against left-wing prosecutors is reminiscent of the 1980s, when concerns about crime paved the way for Rudolph W. Giuliani’s election as mayor of New York.
None of this bodes well for Democrats, who have a limited amount of time to set ship right before the midterm elections, where they will defend their fragile hold on the House and Senate.
They are already treading water thanks to rising gas and supermarket prices making it difficult for working-class families.
Liberal Democrats in California say Republicans are trying to blame a progressive vision that hasn’t had enough time to stand and prove it could work.
Indeed, Mr Boudin’s advocates celebrated his rejection of a crackdown on the criminal justice era, and his vow to tackle the root causes of crime.
They praised him for ending the cash bail and releasing most of the suspects from trial, as well as stopping criminal charges for “quality of life” crimes such as prostitution, public urination and public camping.
They praised him and other forward-thinking prosecutors across the country for putting more emphasis on reducing prison and prison populations and putting more emphasis on rehabilitation and diversion programs for young offenders.
But critics blamed his policies for fueling a culture of lawlessness characterized by attacks, robberies and burglaries that rattled residents, leaving them feeling unsafe and insecure.
NBA legend Charles Barkley recently described San Francisco as a “hell” and said he loved the city but it needed to be cleaned up. Polls also show that voters do not feel safe.
For his part, Mr Boudin said he understands voters are frustrated but said his office was seen as a “scapegoat” for problems that existed long before he took office, and were exacerbated by the pandemic.
“The challenge is that we are faced with a page that comes straight out of the national Republican script,” said Mr. Boudin before the election on the Fifth & Mission podcast.
“Look at what Donald Trump was doing nationally, and actually he lied over and over, but he did it loud enough and consistently enough and got enough other people in places to repeat those lies that people started to question things.” like vaccines among many, many other things that are indisputable basic science,” he argued.
Mr Boudin also called the recall short-sighted as he failed to offer solutions to the challenges facing his office and the city.
Mr Boudin is the first of the progressive prosecutors elected to get the boot in major cities across the country.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx suffered a similar backlash, but they won re-election in their respective races in 2020 and 2021.
Mr Boudin’s father was a member of the extremist Weather Underground group and spent decades in prison for second-degree murder and first-degree theft before being paroled last year.
Regardless, voters said they wanted change.
“This recall is so much more because San Francisco’s problems are broadly symptomatic of so many cities across the country — crime, homelessness, mental health problems, housing — everything,” Mr. McCaun said. “This DA recall has become less about progressive DAs across the country…and more about the loss of capacity and ability to govern in cities from SF to LA to the points east.”
“That’s the message of this recall,” he said