Former San Francisco DA Now Running Against L.A.’s Jackie Lacey
Last year, the social justice movement tried— and largely failed — to unseat some of the state’s toughest district attorneys. But they think they’ve got a real shot in L.A. County this time, where a high profile ex-cop and former San Francisco prosecutor has announced his bid to unseat DA Jackie Lacey.
Former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon said Monday that he will challenge Jackie Lacey to become Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor next year in a race that may test the political mood for criminal justice reform in one of the nation’s most progressive and diverse cities.
The move serves as a homecoming for Gascon — a former LAPD assistant chief who was raised in Southern California — and crystallizes the 2020 contest as a referendum that could reshape the nation’s largest district attorney’s office, where Lacey has faced growing criticism from many social justice advocacy groups.
Gascon was first appointed San Francisco DA in 2011 by then mayor Gavin Newsom. He resigned earlier this year. He had previously served as the city’s police chief and led the police department in Mesa, Ariz. where he frequently spoke out against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was assistant chief of the LAPD during Bill Bratton’s tenure.
Gascon has long been known as a reform-minded cop and prosecutor. He enacted an automatic marijuana conviction expungement program in San Francisco, co-authored Prop. 47, and advocated for the end of cash bail. Despite his law enforcement background, he is certain to face opposition from law enforcement groups who see him as soft on crime.
“He is the Monopoly candidate for Los Angeles County district attorney, he created a statewide “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE” program named Proposition 47 and the residents of California are paying a heavy price for his misguided and misleading reform effort,” Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said.
But he is still getting big endorsements, including one from ex-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Jackie Lacey has been L.A. County’s top prosecutor for the past seven years. Her last election was in 2016 when she ran unopposed.
This time around, Lacey is facing tough opposition from a field of challengers, including two of her subordinates. The Los Angeles Times has called Lacey’s bid for a third term the most important election in 2020 aside from the presidential race.