A progressive former prosecutor for San Francisco’s recalled district attorney Chesa Boudin has launched a bid for his old boss’s job.
Ryan Khojasteh, 30, jumped into the race on Friday, promising to deliver "real safety" to the progressive city that’s reeling under crime spikes, homelessness, and drug overdoses. Khojasteh is a former public defender who supported his then-boss Boudin through the recall that ousted him. He now works for Alameda County’s progressive district attorney Pamela Price, who, like Boudin, was backed by liberal billionaire George Soros and is facing her own recall campaign.
Khojasteh’s run for the top prosecutor’s job, in a city that has become a national poster child for progressive politics, will test the liberal Bay Area’s appetite to once more elect a left-wing district attorney as the overwhelming majority of San Franciscans are worried about open-air drug use, fentanyl dealing, and crime and safety. While Khojasteh has yet to stake out a detailed platform, his campaign website highlights the city’s crime problems and criticizes the idea of arresting drug users. He told the Washington Free Beacon he supports unionizing prosecutors, expanding help for victims, and pursuing extra jail time in certain cases, such as when the criminal seriously injures a victim.
"I believe in balancing accountability and rehabilitation for a better way on public safety," Khojasteh said.
Brooke Jenkins, the incumbent he is running to oppose, is a moderate Democrat who has adopted a more aggressive stance on prosecution and achieved a higher conviction rate than her predecessors—although she hasn’t significantly driven down crime. Jenkins fired Khojasteh after she replaced Boudin.
For the last year, Khojasteh worked for Oakland D.A. Price, who has presided over a massive increase in crime and lawlessness. His responsibilities in that office have included referring criminal defendants to drug or psychiatric rehabilitation, handling victim restitution, and prosecuting parole and post-release violations.
While casting himself as the middle ground between Boudin and Jenkins, Khojasteh has long been active in San Francisco’s left-wing circle. In 2018, he challenged former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.) from the left, running on a "rehabilitative" criminal justice platform that included decriminalizing drug use. He also helped organize against Boudin’s recall as co-president of one of San Francisco’s Democratic clubs, alongside other local progressive politicians.
Through his political Facebook page Khojasteh helped fundraise for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a group with funding ties to Hamas according to the website NGO Monitor. While he condemned Hamas in a publicly posted poem after the group’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, he likewise bemoaned Israel’s response, asking: "Have our morals been dismissed?"
San Franciscan Richie Greenberg, who led the city’s successful recall of Boudin, has already launched a "Reject Ryan" website to oppose Khojasteh—stating that "San Franciscans have had enough of ‘Restorative Justice prosecutors’" who "actively work to halt and dismantle criminal accountability."
Update Jan. 31, 11:18 a.m.: After publication, a representative for Soros objected to characterizing Boudin as supported by the billionaire -- saying that his Justice & Public Safety PAC has not, directly or indirectly, "backed or supported or contributed to Mr. Boudin."
Soros' representatives made a similar correction request to the Washington Free Beacon shortly after Boudin was recalled by San Francisco voters. As the Free Beacon noted then, while Soros has never directly contributed to his campaign he funds organizations that gave Boudin more than $600,000 for his election.