Reelection bid for LA County's progressive district attorney has 11 opponents.

Los Angeles — The Los Angeles County district attorney, one of the nation's most progressive, faces 11 candidates for reelection after two recall campaigns in four years. In Tuesday's nonpartisan primary, incumbent George Gascón faces line prosecutors, former federal prosecutors, and county judges.

A contender must get 50%-plus-one votes to win the primary, an implausible possibility given the largest field ever. Anything less prompts a November runoff between the top two candidates to lead a U.S. agency that prosecutes cases in the most populated county.

Although Gascón will likely survive the primary, many are less bullish about November. A recall attempt within 100 days and a second later failed to get on the ballot in his first term.

Gascón's opponents are using disturbing footage of luxury store smash-and-grabs to sway voters' public safety views. Even the mayor and police chief of Los Angeles declared in January that they were attempting to improve the city's image due to the widespread sense of unease.

From 2022 to 2023, property crime in Los Angeles County's sheriff's jurisdiction grew over 3%, whereas violent crime declined about 1.5%. Still, Gascón's opponents criticize him and his progressive initiatives for increased property crime and safety concerns. Local prosecutors Jonathan Hatami and Eric Siddall, former federal prosecutors Jeff Chemerinsky and Nathan Hochman, a previous attorney general candidate, are the opponents.

After police killed George Floyd, Gascón was elected on a criminal justice reform platform in 2020. Gascón immediately implemented his campaign agenda: no death penalty, no juvenile prosecution, no cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, and no enhancements for repeat offenses or gang membership.

Early in his term, he was compelled to turn back some of his largest measures, such as eliminating more than 100 enhancements and making hate crimes felonies. The move enraged victims' advocates, and Gascón reversed, restoring improvements in instances involving children, old people, and persons targeted for race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or handicap.

This year's rivals argue Gascón is too soft on crime and want to repeal his most progressive actions, such his early orders to eliminate sentencing enhancements. David S. Milton, Debra Archuleta, Maria Ramirez, Dan Kapelovitz, Lloyd “Bobcat” Masson, John McKinney, and Craig Mitchell are also running.

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