San Francisco Criticism Won’t Hurt Gascón

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Is this how San Franciscans express their love?

San Francisco’s mayor and city attorney both appeared to be settling scores when they endorsed Los Angeles D.A. Jackie Lacey in her re-election bid. This endorsement was reported as a snub of George Gascón, the San Francisco D.A. who quit and moved back to L.A to run for the same job there.

But I wonder if they aren’t secretly trying to help Gascón.

We Angelenos have grown to resent San Franciscans, and their disproportionate wealth and power. If Gascón were coming to L.A. with the San Francisco establishment support him for d.a., that support would have been a problem. If San Franciscans like Gascón, why should Angelenos trust him?

The snub by politically powerful San Franciscans may actually help him. It shows he’s independent, and not beloved. If the mayor of San Francisco doesn’t care for him, perhaps Gascón might actually take on public official corruption, even in city hall. Criticism from San Francisco can sound like an endorsement in Los Angeles.

The political distance from San Francisco is also helpful because Gascón is running well to the left of Lacey. He was a co-author of Prop 47, which reduced punishment for nonviolent crime, and he has pushed other criminal justice reforms that might get him tarred as soft on crime.

So if Lacey calls him the San Francisco candidate, Gascón can reply: San Francisco’s leaders are supporting you, not me!

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