Voters in last week’s polls rejected criminal justice reformers in Orange County and San Francisco, sparking debate about the future of California’s progressive movement and the fate of the recall campaign against progressive Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon. Went.
Despite their differences, both tough and progressive factions on crime can agree on one thing: fear is a great motivator. Experts said whether that fear is well placed or the product of political spin, voters do not like to feel insecure and will mark their ballots accordingly.
“California’s ‘cannibalism’ is that criminal justice reform is fine and good, until I am less secure,” said Jody Balma, a professor of political science at Fullerton College. “They want reform in principle, they want reform in essence. … For all of California’s progressive reputation, we’ve always been tough on crime and always will be.”
That said, many experts advise against reading too much into the remembrance of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s landslide in one of the country’s most liberal communities. Boudin faced a well-funded campaign that played on the dismay and fear of a public who blamed him for local loot-and-grab.
Cal State Long Beach assistant political science professor Matt Lessey said San Francisco voters did not reject the progressive message, only the messenger.
“Was this a landslide rebuttal of the progressives? No,” said Lesney. “If there is a lesson to be learned, who is it the face of the movement? … Baudin is not a great mouthpiece.”
“People in San Francisco still want to open up the criminal justice system,” he said.
Similarly, Lesney said, Gascon could be wrongfully convicted in Los Angeles County if a major crime was committed.
“The worst thing that can happen to Gascon is a major case that can happen to any district attorney, some gruesome murder,” he said.
some reformers did well
Christine Soto DeBerry, director of the Progressive Prosecutor’s Coalition of California, said the reformers did well in other California races. Incumbent Attorney General Rob Bonta had a pending face-off with GOP challenger Nathan Hochman in November’s election. Incumbent Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton won re-election outright. And in Alameda County, civil rights attorney Pamela Price was the leading vote-getter in the district attorney race leading up to the November runoff.
“People want to point to the recall as a harbinger that reform is dead … but voters are not accepting that view,” DeBerry said. “The truth is, reforms are on the rise in this state. I don’t believe taxpayers want to continue to fund a failed system.”
One of the components of the Progressive Forum is that the criminal justice system has relied on incarceration for too long, rejecting the notion of rehabilitation as a response to crime. It is a system based on punishment as a deterrent, with many juveniles charged as adults, many people of color and people with mental illness wrongfully imprisoned. Yet crime remains unbridled.
“We are not succeeding on either side of the equation (in the criminal justice system),” DeBerry said. “Of course we want security, but do we want it at the cost of all of our worth?”
In Orange County, current District Attorney Todd Spitzer cornered his nearest rival, Democratic Progressive candidate Pete Hardin. Spitzer roasted one of Orange County’s biggest bugaboos—became like Los Angeles County.
The strategy worked despite Spitzer’s scandals, which included a double murder case violation of the State Racial Justice Act. No sanctions were issued, but Spitzer was strongly criticized for her statement during an internal meeting that some black men date white women to raise their status in the community.
‘Progressives need to listen’
When campaigning ended late Tuesday, Spitzer told the Orange County Register that he was in favor of some reform and wanted to find common ground with Gascon and Boudin. He insisted that his re-election for a second term and the recall of Boudin was a referendum against the “excessiveness” of the Progressive Movement.
“When San Francisco dismisses a progressive district attorney, progressives need to listen,” Spitzer said. “People are sick and tired.”
Agree John Fleishman, a conservative political consultant and publisher of the Flash Report website.
“The pendulum went too far from the people who were victimized by the crime,” Fleischmann said. “There is overreach. (correction) all look good until they work in practice. If you’re afraid of going to the market, it’s too real. Good policies of the left fail when they keep people safe.” don’t have.”
In Spitzer’s case, the politician said his strategy to link his main rival, Hardin, to a future apocalyptic crime was “brilliant.”
“He defined Pete Hardin before Hardin introduced himself to voters,” said Balma, a Fullerton political scientist.
She said that Spitzer has been around Orange County politics for 30 years, as a school board member, county supervisor, and state legislature, so long that people have voted for him based on past achievements—his ” ready, shoot, aim” reputation notwithstanding.
“He may not have noticed his last four years as district attorney, but he remembers he was against the airport in El Toro,” Balma said.
As Fred Smoller, professor of political science at Chapman University, put it: “Toad is a known object. They may not like him, but they trust Toad to be a toad.”