San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, considered one of the most progressive law enforcement officials in the nation, announced on Thursday that he would step down from that position later this month, relocate to his hometown of Los Angeles, then “explore a run for District Attorney” there.
The Los Angeles Times called the move “an almost certain signal that he is preparing to challenge Jackie Lacey to become Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor.”
Gascón’s second term would have concluded at the end of this year, but now his last day as San Francisco’s D.A. will be October 18. More than a year ago, Gascón revealed that he would not seek a third term, citing the failing health of his mother, who resides in the L.A. area. He had the support of progressive billionaire George Soros, who, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, had planned to hold multiple fundraisers for Gascón’s re-election effort.
“San Francisco’s District Attorney has every right to quit his office and run for another one, and I welcome him into the race,” Lacey said in a statement to The Times. “I would put our office’s record up against any D.A.’s office in the country.”
Several social justice advocacy groups reportedly asked Gascón to consider launching a campaign against Lacey, including representatives from the Real Justice political action committee, which was co-founded by nationally-known black liberation activist Shaun King. The PAC, along with Mr. Soros, attempted to elect several reform-minded prosecutors throughout California last year.
Gascón, 65, has had meetings with Patrisse Cullors, the California director of Real Justice PAC who is also Black Lives Matter’s co-founder and key strategist. Additionally, he has been visiting activist groups in L.A., including BLM’s local chapter.
“If George Gascón runs, we’ve seen his record in San Francisco, and while he is not perfect, he is clear that he is going to challenge [U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement],” Cullors told the L.A. Times. “He is clear that he is going to be responsive to the needs of people with mental illness in this county and he is clear that he is going to hold law enforcement accountable.”
Lacey, who is running for her third term, has won the endorsements of several of the region’s most prominent politicians, including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Democratic Congressmen Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff, along with police unions representing LAPD and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
As The Daily Wire previously reported:
Since becoming the first African-American woman elected as L.A.’s top law enforcement official in 2012, Lacey has been the frequent target of a local anti-cop coalition which includes Black Lives Matter and the ACLU. Lacey’s critics have scrutinized her record of opposing progressive criminal justice reform policies, along with her unwillingness to prosecute police who have engaged in officer-involved shootings. Black Lives Matter members have protested in front of Lacey’s house, organized recurring demonstrations outside of her office, and vowed to “disrupt her wherever she goes” on the campaign trail.
D.A. Lacey has also been criticized for her handling of the cases against high-profile Democratic donor Ed Buck, who was recently indicted on a series of federal narcotics distribution offenses, including providing methamphetamine to two men who died inside his West Hollywood home after being injected with the drug.
Some of the same advocates who persistently denounced Lacey on her slowness to charge Buck have also partnered with organizations interested in promoting prosecutor candidates such as Gascón, who are supportive of progressive criminal justice reforms. According to the New York Times, “Groups that have successfully supported reform-minded prosecutors … have zeroed in on Los Angeles as the ultimate prize for their movement because of its size — it has the biggest jail system and the largest prosecutors office in the country.”
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter@JeffreyCawood.