San Francisco residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, one of the nation’s most progressive top prosecutors.
Partial results from the San Francisco Department of Elections on Tuesday night showed the recall measure – also known as Proposition H – had the support of nearly 60% of voters, with 40% voting against it.
Boudin sought to reform the criminal justice system, ending the use of cash bail, stopping the prosecution of minors as adults, and focused on lowering jail populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Boudin also became the first San Francisco DA to file homicide charges against city police officers.
At an election night gathering, Boudin told his supporters he is just getting started in the push for criminal justice reform.
“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.
“We know that this is a system that has systematically failed us, not just for decades, but for generations.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed will choose Boudin’s replacement.
Whoever is appointed will have to run in the general election to fill the remainder of Boudin’s term, which was to last through 2023.
Proponents of the recall claimed Boudin – a longtime public defender – was not prosecuting criminals aggressively and said his instituting progressive policies was putting the safety of residents at risk. They spent over $ 7 million blasting that message to voters in San Francisco throughout the course of the campaign.
“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice,” Mary Jung, a chair of the recall campaign, said 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.”
Momentum to recall Boudin picked up steam throughout 2021 as hate crimes against Asian Americans in San Francisco increased dramatically and victims blamed Boudin, saying he was siding with criminals. Recall supporters also pointed to car break-ins and viral smash-and-grab robberies at major retail stores, claiming they were becoming common occurrences as consequences of Boudin’s policies.
Boudin’s team maintained throughout the campaign that there was no direct correlation between the spike in some crimes and the DA’s policies. But Tuesday night’s results indicate voters didn’t buy that message.
The recall in San Francisco could have implications for other progressive, reform-minded prosecutors across the country. Boudin narrowly won in 2019 as progressive prosecutors pledged to focus on alternatives to incarceration and hold police officers accountable.
In Los Angeles, organizers are now close to gathering enough signatures to force a recall vote for their district attorney, George Gascon. He was elected in 2020 and previously served as San Francisco’s DA. His resignation and subsequent move to Southern California paved the way for Boudin to take office.
There are still votes to count and election results will need to be certified before Breed gets to appoint a replacement.
Breed has not officially weighed in on the DA recall. In October 2019, Breed appointed Suzy Loftus, the former president of the San Francisco Police Commission, as the interim DA following Gascon’s resignation.
During that November election, Boudin got 36% of the support in the initial count, but San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system propelled him to victory over Loftus by fewer than 3,000 votes.
Last month, District Two Supervisor Catherine Stefani became the first elected official in the city to endorse the recall. Multiple political operatives involved with the recall effort told CBS News that Stefani would likely be considered by Breed as a potential replacement.