Incumbent LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has been the subject of much criticism from the reform movement, is indeed headed to a November runoff against former SF DA George Gascón. Her percentage, which was well over 50 percent after election day, fell to 48.71 percent.
George Gascón finished in second with 28 percent of the vote and Public Defender Rachel Rossi, also running as a reformer, was third with a solid 23 percent of the vote.
The results had been trending this way for some time and, by last Friday, Ms. Lacey had fallen below 50 percent and the results looked all but certain to lead to a runoff in November.
In a statement from George Gascon’s campaign: “Today, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder released the results of another 29.672 ballots from the March 3rd primary, leaving approximately 34,328 total ballots left to be counted. Every vote must be counted, but the number of outstanding ballots cannot alter the result.”
“A majority of Angelenos rejected the status-quo in favor of a modem system of justice,” said former District Attorney and Assistant Chief of the LAPD, George Gascón. “Over the next 228 days our mission will be to convince every voter that healthier, safer communities are a product of leaders willing to lean on data and science.”
Mr. Gascón added: “We can no longer afford—either socially or economically—for our barometer of justice to simply revolve around punishment. This dated approach has come at untold costs to victims, taxpayers and rehabilitation, and it has not made us safer.
“My record demonstrates that we can reduce crime, incarceration, and system costs simultaneously, and if elected in November we will do it again.”
Mr. Gascón stated: “Now more than ever, Los Angeles families and communities deserve competent and ethical stewardship from our public servants. We need leaders who can keep us safe by investing our increasingly strained taxpayer dollars in compassionate, effective approaches that address mental health and victims services instead of wasting millions on outdated schemes that did not work in the 1980s and do not work now. Between a global pandemic and near-weekly exposés of government corruption, Los Angeles voters want and deserve leaders they can trust. Now is the time for that change.”
One of the big factors here of course is that George Gascón, who resigned from his San Francisco DA position on Oct. 18, 2019, stating he would be moving to L.A. to be with family, and Rachel Rossi, a public defender, both ran as reformers.
George Gascón during the campaign focused on “promoting alternatives to jail; gathering and relying on transparent data; limiting cash bail; expunging marijuana convictions; and deciding charges based on race-blind information… sponsored a state initiative that reduced many drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and supported a proposal to tighten the legal standard for the use of deadly force by the police.”
Rachel Rossi is the first public defender running for LA DA. On her campaign Twitter account, Ms. Rossi noted how the other candidates are career criminal prosecutors and her stance as a public defender would bring the reform needed in District Attorney’s office. She also notes that her policy based background would help in restructuring the LA DA’s office.
They clearly split the progressive vote—this could suggest a path to victory for Mr. Gascón come November.
An unknown factor is how much of an impact the incident involving Ms. Lacey’s husband played. After all, she got over 54 percent of the vote that arrived before election day but well under 50 percent on election day or after.
The day before the election for district attorney, the image of Jackie Lacey’s husband standing as his door, gun cocked, yelling, “I will shoot” is unlikely to help.
The incident happened early Monday, March 2. Video from the scene shows David Lacey, a former investigative auditor for the district attorney’s office, in the early morning hours pointing a gun and shouting, “I will shoot you. Get off of my porch.”
In a hastily called press conference downtown late Monday morning, Ms. Lacey offered an apology but at the same time criticized protesters for repeated harassment and threats during her time in office.
“His response was in fear, and now that he realizes what happened he wanted me to say to the protesters, the person that he showed the gun to, that he was sorry, that he’s profoundly sorry, that he meant no one any harm,” Ms. Lacey said, her voice swelling with emotion.
In a tweet Rachel Rossi, one of her opponents, said: “I will never run from the community. And I never thought I’d have to say it, but I will also never threaten to shoot community members protesting for change.”
While George Gascón’s campaign did not comment, Jasmyne Cannick, communications director for the Rossi campaign wrote on Twitter: “What if someone got nervous at the sight of a gun in their face and dropped their cellphone or something else that made a loud noise that then triggered Mr. Lacey’s finger causing him to shoot someone for no reason? There are so many reasons that his actions are just wrong.”
Most of the campaign focused on criticism of Jackie Lacey’s policies, from the death penalty to drug prosecution to mass incarceration.
Along with the victory earlier this week for Kim Foxx in Chicago, these were big moments for the progressive reform movement.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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