The citizens of San Francisco voted Tuesday night to recall embattled progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin due to his soft on crime policies, which many blamed for rising violence across the city.
Early returns showed 61 percent of the votes were in favor of the recall, compared to 39 percent who wanted to retain him, in what is expected to be a low turnout election. The race divided Democrats in the city. According to a recent headline in The New York Times, "In San Francisco, Democrats Are at War With Themselves Over Crime."
San Francisco Democrat Mayor London Breed, will select his replacement.
Boudin, 41, was a first-time political candidate who was elected in 2019 with 50.8 percent of the vote as part of a national slate of progressive prosecutors who pledged police reform. He was elected after raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors associated with George Soros.
The billionaire has spent millions of dollars on district attorneys’ races around the US, specifically, to "reform" the justice system, which has resulted in prolific offenders being released, only to terrorize neighborhoods again and again.
Boudin was sworn in as San Francisco's 29th district attorney on Jan. 8, 2020, and from his first day in office faced criticism over his progressive criminal justice policies. Those who supported the recall blamed the policies for an increase in the murder rate, violent crime, theft, shoplifting, burglaries, open-air drug markets and increased drug use and as reasons for him to be removed from office.
Footage regularly went viral of fearless shoplifters and broad daylight attacks against locals, especially older Asian Americans. Photos circulated earlier in the year of residents leaving their car doors and trunks open so theives would not break the glass. The city was regularly featured in national news as the symbol of the failure of Democratic governance and eventually drove residents to mount the recall campaign.
Another recall effort is currently in the works against progressive Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón. Many believe that Boudin's loss could be a warning sign for Gascón.
Boudin, a former public defender, was a baby when his parents, left-wing Weather Underground radicals, were getaway drivers in a botched 1981 robbery in New York which left two police officers and a security guard dead. The couple was sentenced to decades in prison. David Gilbert was granted parole in October, while Kathy Boudin was released on parole in 2003 and died of cancer in May.
During his campaign for District Attorney, Boudin spoke of going through metal detectors to visit his parents in prison as his motivation for reforming the justice system.
The recall campaign was supported by many of the same people who successfully removed three progressive activist members of the San Francisco public school board in February.
Boudin is the first district attorney to be recalled in the city's history, and only the second to face a recall election. According to Fox News, following his defeat, Boudin said at an election-night party that his drive for progressive policies in criminal justice and prison reform was not over. "This is a movement, not a moment in history. The coalition that we built… it is broad, it is diverse, it is strong. And it is a coalition that is deeply committed to justice." He also blamed his loss on corporate backers that he claimed outspent him "three to one."
A representative of the Recall Gascon Campaign told the outlet, "Tonight showed that voters from every community and every walk of life, regardless of political ideology, are rejecting pro-criminal policies that are masked as criminal justice reform. George Gascón and Chesa Boudin’s failed social experiments have destroyed communities while doing nothing to meaningfully reform the system. If LA County voters sign and return their recall petitions, Gascon will be walking the same plank in the near future."
CORRECTION: This article and headline have been updated to reflect that Boudin was funded by donors who were affiliated with George Soros, though he may not have been funded by Soros directly. A previous version of this article cited the New York Post's claims, taken from the Associated Press, that Soros had funded Boudin.