AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
On Tuesday, San Francisco voters will head to the polls to decide the fate of Chesa Boudin, the city’s radical progressive district attorney who has overseen a dramatic rise in crime and now faces a recall election. If polls are correct and Boudin is indeed ousted in one of the most liberal cities in America, it could prove an ominous sign for other activist prosecutors in California and throughout the country.
According to the latest polling from the race, 48% of San Francisco voters plan to vote to remove Boudin from office, while only 38% support keeping him in place. Those numbers are marginally better for Boudin than the 68%-32% and 57%-22% splits seen in earlier polls, but hardly reassuring for the embattled DA.
Nonetheless, Boudin has remained defiant in the face of a resoundingly clear rebuke from residents of his own city. He has ardently defended his policies, which include freeing dozens of violent felons from jail, refusing to prosecute “minor” crimes like burglary and assault, ending cash bail, and targeting police officers for prosecution.
In an interview with a local San Francisco news outlet, ostensibly to defend his record, Boudin even bragged about being the first DA in city history to charge a police officer with excessive use of force. But that officer was later found not guilty by a jury, and the facts of the case revealed that the officer was defending his partner from a violent criminal, who just moments before was assaulting a woman.
In the same interview, when confronted with polling data showing that a majority of Asian Americans and Hispanics in San Francisco – two groups whom Boudin claims his policies are helping the most – support the recall effort, Boudin dismisses the data as simply “not true.” To hear him tell it, the entire recall is being perpetrated by Republican billionaires, and every resident in the city is behind his decisions.
That rosy optimism is unlikely to sway many voters, particularly with the rampant crime now plaguing the city, most notably a dramatic spike in robberies and drug crimes. For example, though San Francisco police confiscated a record amount of fentanyl from dealers last year, Boudin’s office failed to secure even a single conviction for possession with intent to sell. When pressed on the matter, Boudin suggested that open-air drug sales were “victimless” and that residents didn’t really care about stopping them.
Should Boudin be recalled Tuesday, it would also be a major warning sign for George Gascon, Boudin’s progressive counterpart just to the south in LA, who faces a recall of his own. As of last month, more than 450,000 signatures have been collected in support of the effort. The organizers believe they are “on the cusp” of reaching the 566,857-signature threshold necessary to trigger a recall vote. Their deadline for doing so is July 6.
While many California voters originally supported these radical DA’s – thanks in large part to a huge influx of cash from progressive billionaire George Soros – the catastrophic rise in crime as a result of their policies has now laid bare just how devastating their idea of “reforms” are. Those same voters are now clamoring for a change of course, and rejecting the progressive criminal justice model outright.
Despite this, some liberal elites in California and elsewhere in the country still don’t appear to have gotten the message. California Attorney General Rob Bonta, whom Governor Gavin Newsom appointed to the post back in March of 2021, has continued to fight to end cash bail across the state and advance “de-incarceration” policies, even denying to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on preventing illegal immigration.
Bonta has already received endorsements from Gascon and Boudin for his commitment to many of the policies that led to their respective recalls. The same group of donors who backed the two men have already maximized their personal donations to Bonta and are also planning to spend millions backing his reelection this fall.
Among those challenging Bonta for the seat is politically independent Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. She said of Bonta, Boudin, and Gascon, “I believe crime victims’ rights have been eviscerated, and they have been ignored by these types of individuals.” Schubert has received the support of law enforcement and other safety-aligned groups. In 2018, the same group backing Bonta attempted to defeat Schubert but failed. Now, Schubert’s strategy to combat crime has clearly been vindicated over that of her progressive counterparts.
Yet despite the public backlash, neither Bonta nor his wealthy backers have shown any introspection regarding their championed policies. One might assume the imminent recall of Gascon and Boudin and the fact that 2022 is on track to be one of California’s deadliest years in modern history would give them pause. No such luck. But as crime rates continue to soar, it seems that Boudin, Gascon, Bonta, and the whole host of progressive prosecutors may be in serious jeopardy.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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