A high-profile effort to oust George Gascón, the progressive district attorney of Los Angeles County, America’s most populous county, failed after election officials announced Monday that proponents of recalling Gascón had not collected enough valid signatures to make the ballot.
Gascón was propelled to office in 2020 by grass-roots activists after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but he almost immediately faced backlash for enacting the sorts of policies they had called for. This is the second time an attempt to recall Gascon fizzled out.
“Grateful to move forward from this attempted political power grab — rest assured LA County, the work hasn’t stopped,” Gascón said on Twitter on Monday. “My primary focus has been & will always be keeping us safe & creating a more equitable justice system for all.”
The announcement comes two months after voters in San Francisco ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin, which put liberal prosecutors elsewhere on edge. But it’s difficult to draw neat conclusions about how Angelenos — or Americans generally — feel about criminal justice reform from the Gascon news alone.
When he took office in December 2020, Gascón, the former top prosecutor in San Francisco, promised to end cash bail and make other sweeping policy changes. Los Angeles County is a huge stage for these reforms — it’s home to nearly 10 million people and has both the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office and its biggest jail system.
Raphael Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, cautioned against drawing strong conclusions from the failure of Gascón’s recall.
Sonenshein described the present moment as a tenuous one: Criminal justice reform is more popular than ever, while taking a tough-on-crime position remains popular too. That means we’re likely to see candidates on