San Francisco's Progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin Recalled By Voters

The projected result marks a major setback for progressives who supported the DA’s mission of criminal justice reform.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was projected to be recalled by voters Tuesday, a loss for progressives who supported his mission of criminal justice reform.

If Boudin is removed from his position as top prosecutor of the majority-Democratic city, Mayor London Breed will appoint an interim DA until voters weigh in again in the November election.

Boudin was elected in 2019 as part of a movement of progressive prosecutors across the country — including Larry Krasner in Philadelphia — pushing back on decades of tough-on-crime policies that increased mass incarceration and disproportionately criminalized Black and Latinx people.

Since entering office, Boudin — a former public defender whose parents spent decades in prison — has kept his campaign promises of eliminating cash bail, holding police accountable and diverting people from the criminal legal system.

The recall effort was led by an organization called San Franciscans for Public Safety, which gathered over 50,000 signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The group has claimed that crime is on the rise in the city and blamed the progressive DA.

But a San Francisco Chronicle analysis found that violent crime in San Francisco actually declined during the pandemic. While murders and shootings have increased in recent years, this tracks with trends across major U.S. cities. Most property crimes are also trending toward their pre-pandemic levels.

The recall was funded by wealthy donors, including William Oberndorf, a Republican megadonor.

The Northern California American Civil Liberties Union and local union chapters of the SEIU supported Boudin with donations against the recall campaign.

Some of Boudin’s critics pointed to growing anti-Asian violence over the past two years in San Francisco, but such hateful attacks occurred in cities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boudin’s team slammed the recall effort as a political tool being used to reverse a fairly won election. State legislators have pushed to reform the recall system in California, with state Sen. Steve Glazer (D) telling HuffPost last year that voters want “a more democratic process” that “prevents political gamesmanship.”

Last year, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom prevailed against an effort to recall him from his seat. But earlier this year, three school board members were successfully recalled from their posts — the first recall in San Francisco since 1983.

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