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George Gascón faces 11 challengers in heated Los Angeles District Attorney race

Los Angeles Township Atty. Georges Gascón is expected to advance to a runoff in November, but it is too early to tell who his challenger will be.

Mr. Gascón has become highly unpopular with a significant portion of Los Angeles County residents, according to polls, but pollsters and local political observers say his strong progressive base makes him very unpopular. suggests it will push him out of a crowded primary field filled with challengers who have spent more time attacking than defining. their own candidates.

Four years after taking over as head of the popular criminal justice reform platform in the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd, Gascón finds himself facing a different political climate in this first cycle. Noticed. Polls show that disapproval of the incumbent is more than 50%, and a mix of dissatisfaction with his policies and perceived vulnerability led to 11 candidates running against him.

Mr. Gascón has achieved some successes during his term, including stepping up efforts to exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted and increasing his focus on prosecuting police officers accused of misconduct or excessive force. No doubt, his tenure was rocked by public disputes with his own prosecutors. A flurry of civil lawsuits has already cost the county about $7 million. Some of his reforms were deemed illegal by a judge in 2021, and critics have accused his policies of being a direct cause of violent crime.

Property crimes and violent crimes increased in Los Angeles County from 2019 to 2022, according to data from the California Department of Justice. But other counties with more traditional prosecutors have seen violent crime spike at much higher rates over the same period, a data point Gascon often highlights. Los Angeles Police Department data also shows that homicides and robberies have declined over the past two years, and criminologists say it would be disingenuous to blame district attorney policies alone for a spike or decline in crime. claims.

Those pursuing Mr. Gascon include four prosecutors from his office, three judges and two former federal prosecutors. With resumes and messages largely mirroring each other, with 10 of the 11 challengers pledging to reverse nearly all of the policies Gascón announced in his inaugural address, it's hard for a challenger to stand out from the pack. It became difficult.

Nathan Hockman, a former federal prosecutor who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state attorney general in 2022, raised the most money in the primary. Mr. Hochman, who is currently running as an independent, has promised to “take politics out” of an office he says has become increasingly partisan due to Mr. Gascón and the broader progressive prosecutor movement across the country.

While Mr. Hockman supports alternative sentencing for non-violent defendants suffering from mental illness or drug addiction, he has also promised to seek the death penalty in some cases and use sentencing enhancements for gang crimes and gun crimes. In some cases, the sentence could definitely be doubled. Defendants. Critics say the enhancements are being used unfairly against people of color.

Jeff Chemerinski, a former federal prosecutor who is running as a moderate who balances reform and justice, was one of the only candidates to embrace criminal justice reform while running against Gascón. Chemerinsky disagrees with much of what Gascón has done, but says he largely avoids testing juveniles as adults and has serious concerns about the use of gang enhancements. he stated. This position has led other challengers to describe him as a “mini-Gascon.”

Other top challengers include Vice Dist. Attis. Jonathan Hatami and Eric Siddal, and Superior Court Judge Debra Archuleta.

Mr. Khatami is one of the field's three biggest fund-raisers, and his long history as a bullish prosecutor who has publicly criticized Mr. Gascón and his involvement in the prosecutor's office's recall attempt have made him a popular figure among victims' rights activists. It was popular among the people. He was the only candidate to break out of the pack in the USC/Doernseif poll earlier this year, finishing second behind Gascón with 8% of the vote. Along with Archuleta, he was endorsed by the Los Angeles Police Protective Alliance, the largest law enforcement union in Los Angeles County.

Mr. Siddal, a veteran prosecutor who handles gang crimes and assaults on police officers, has won the support of the union that represents rank-and-file prosecutors and has often been at odds with the district attorney through the union. Mr. Siddal also ran as a moderate, claiming to represent a “new generation of prosecutors” who seek a balance between reform and aggressive prosecution of violent criminals, but he and Mr. Chemerinsky often argue over the same airspace. I realized that I was fighting.

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