San Francisco recalls progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to recall progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin following a heated campaign that captivated the country and bitterly divided Democrats over crime, policing and public safety reform in the famously liberal city. WATCH: Rising crime galvanizes San Francisco voters to attempt recall of their district attorney

Recall proponents cheered the results at a victory party, with California state leaders of the hotel and retailers associations lauding Boudin’s removal as a sign that visitors, shoppers and workers will be prioritized again in a city that relies heavily on tourism. They rejected Boudin’s efforts to paint them as Republicans.

“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice,” said Mary Jung, a chair of the recall campaign, in a statement. “In fact, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so with new leadership.”

Boudin, 41, was a first-time political candidate who narrowly won office in November 2019 as part of a national wave of progressive prosecutors who pledged to seek alternatives to incarceration, end the racist war on drugs and hold police officers to account.

Boudin, 41, was a first-time political candidate who narrowly won office in November 2019 as part of a national wave of progressive prosecutors who pledged to seek alternatives to incarceration, end the racist war on drugs and hold police officers to account.

But his time in office coincided with a frustrating and frightening pandemic in which viral footage of brazen shoplifting and attacks against Asian American people drove some residents to mount a recall campaign of the former public defender and son of left-wing activists.

Partial returns Tuesday night showed about 60 percent of voters supporting the recall, but Boudin remained defiant in a speech to supporters, saying he was outspent by “right-wing billionaires.” He said voters were understandably frustrated by the pandemic and a city government that has failed to deliver on safety, housing and equity.

“We have two cities. We have two systems of justice. We have one for the wealthy and the well connected and a different one for everybody else. And that’s exactly what we are fighting to change,” he said, adding that justice was on their side.

“We have two cities. We have two systems of justice. We have one for the wealthy and the well connected and a different one for everybody else. And that’s exactly what we are fighting to change,” he said, adding that justice was on their side.

It was unclear Tuesday what the resounding recall of Boudin could mean to the progressive prosecutor movement nationally and in California, where reform candidates were competing against more traditional law-and-order candidates in a handful of races, with mixed results.