Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon would lose a recall election if it were held today, according to a late July poll commissioned by a group that is trying to make such an outcome possible.
By nearly 40 percentage points — 61.4% to 21.5% — voters said they would prefer someone other than Mr. Gascon to serve as the top prosecutor in California’s most populous county, the survey conducted by J. Wallin Opinion Research found.
“The clear takeaway is that George Gascon is rapidly losing support less than a year after being elected, and that a recall would overwhelmingly pass if it were held today,” said Tim Lineberger, a spokesman for the Recall George Gascon campaign. “The voters of Los Angeles County disapprove of Gascon, his job performance and extreme policy agenda that puts violent criminals first, and places victims in the back of the line.”
The poll was conducted between July 23-28 and involved 650 voters, of whom 53% were Democrats and 17% Republicans, with the rest being independents or not claiming a major party.
Recall organizers have until Oct. 27 to gather 579,062 signatures from registered voters in Los Angeles County — 10% of the jurisdiction’s electorate.
The poll found that 41.5% of voters would sign the recall petition, which translates to 2,331,653 — far above the needed threshold.
Whether organizers will hit their mark remains an open question. Mr. Lineberger said efforts and fundraising are strong, with more than $1.5 million raised thus far, but a return of COVID restrictions in California has complicated things.
“The main hurdle is not the recall vote itself, but collecting roughly 600,000 signatures from LA County voters during a pandemic, especially while operating under COVID-19 lockdowns, as was the case at the beginning of this effort,” he said.
Mr. Gascon was elected last year as one of the so-called Soros DAs, prosecutors whose campaigns were bankrolled by PACs funded almost exclusively by left-wing megadonor George Soros.
These prosecutors — now in office in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis and other jurisdictions — say the criminal justice system has disproportionately hurt minorities and call for changes such as making fewer indictments and seeking shorter sentences for some felonies.
Many of these cities have seen alarming surges in violent crime since the new district attorneys took office, with the murder rates approaching record highs. In Los Angeles, there were 179 homicides in the first six months of 2021, the highest midyear total in more than a decade.
The district attorneys contend there is no connection between their more lenient approach and the sharp rise in violent crime, an uptick that often began before they took office.
But opponents, in many cases led by other law enforcement officials and crime victims, say a soft touch on crime contributes to more of it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gascon is underwater in terms of his approval rating, according to the new poll. Of the 40.8% who disapprove of his performance as district attorney 29.2% strongly disapprove, while only 25.1% said they approve of his work thus far.
The poll also shows that 34.2% hold an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Gascon and 17.7% have a favorable one.
Other “Soros DAs” have seen similar dismal poll numbers while generating vocal pushback and even outrage from some in the law enforcement community, only to prove resilient once taking office.
In St. Louis, where Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner was dogged by campaign finance irregularities, she was reelected to a second term. So was Philadelphia prosecutor Larry Krasner, despite a concerted effort by a Protect Our Police PAC to unseat him and his failure to gain the endorsement of the local Democratic Parity in his reelection bid.
Consequently, Mr. Gascon‘s opponents are urging people to back the recall rather than face him in a normal election cycle when he would have more financial support and be running in a general election.
“If this effort can continue to secure the resources required for signature collection and LA County residents affected by the Gascon crime wave continue to step up and speak out, Gascon will be gone by this time next year,” Mr. Lineberger said. “Otherwise, this will be a major missed opportunity to restore public safety, and the brazen crimes, mistreatment of victims, and dereliction of duty by the County’s top prosecutor will continue to cause chaos in Los Angeles.”
• James Varney can be reached at email@example.com.
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