(NewsNation) — San Francisco voters recalled their district attorney in a referendum on his response to crime that critics called too soft, DecisionDesk HQ projects.
Chesa Boudin was narrowly elected in 2019 as part of a national wave of liberal district attorneys determined to reform a system they called racist and ineffectual. Boudin, a former public defender, vowed to hold police officers and corporations accountable for social ills. His prosecutors are not allowed to seek cash bail for defendants, charge juveniles as adults or request longer sentences due to a defendant’s gang affiliations.
But his time in office has coincided with a pandemic in which attacks against Asian-Americans and viral footage of rampant shoplifting rattled residents, some of whom launched a recall effort. They say Boudin is inexperienced and inflexible, often seeking to avoid charging criminals in favor of alternative treatment programs.
NewsNation political editor Chris Stirewalt said this result will make establishment Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, happy.
“This says moderates are coming back in the Democratic party and the more radical part of the progressive left is being put in check,” Stirewalt said.
Boudin’s supporters say conservative interests poured money into a deceitful campaign that unfairly singles him out for blame in a system in which police and judges also face responsibility. San Francisco has long struggled with property crime and records show Boudin is filing charges at roughly the same rate as his predecessor, who also leaned progressive.
Reports of overall crime in the city are down, but incidents of burglary and motor vehicle theft have gone up since 2017, according to San Francisco police data.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed will appoint his successor. She has not weighed in publicly on the race but has clashed with him over how best to crack down on unfettered drug dealing and opioid use in the city’s troubled Tenderloin neighborhood.
Former Assistant District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, who quit Boudin’s office and joined the recall campaign last year, said San Francisco is still committed to having a progressive district attorney, but one “who understands there still has to be accountability.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.