Democratic voters are turning on left-wing prosecutors and congressional candidates amid a nationwide crime surge.
Late last month, Maryland voters ousted Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby (D.), who backed decarceration and defunding police even as the city’s homicide rate skyrocketed. Mosby was only the latest "reform-minded" prosecutor to get the boot. San Francisco residents removed District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D.) in June after he crusaded against policing and prisons as "failed responses" to crime. Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascón (D.), who has supported "shrinking the size and the role of policing," is on the verge of a recall.
The purge is the latest sign of voters’ dissatisfaction with rising crime. The FBI in 2020 recorded its highest ever single-year increase in homicides. A year later, 12 Democrat-run U.S. cities saw the most murders in their history. The uptick in crime particularly galvanized minority voters in San Francisco, whose neighborhoods were racked with drug overdose deaths, robberies, and murders.
According to former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, this type of backlash was inevitable.
"People will only be victims for a limited period before they get fed up," he told the Washington Free Beacon.
Progressive prosecutors aren’t the only soft-on-crime figures getting the boot. Across the country, nearly half-a-dozen Democratic candidates lost their elections because of their far-left criminal justice agendas. Texas voters chose moderate Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar over Squad-backed Jessica Cisneros in a June primary.
Later that month, Illinois voters booted left-wing Rep. Marie Newman (D.) from office and voted against progressive candidate Kina Collins. Ana María Archila, a favorite of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), lost a bid for New York lieutenant governor months after she had said the Empire State needed to "divest resources from police, prosecutors, and jails."
Rather than acknowledging voters' concerns, progressive prosecutors are trying to blame conservatives for their troubles. Boudin decried "right-wing billionaires" who "outspent us three to one" after his recall. But campaign filings show some of the largest donations to Boudin’s recall effort came from wealthy Bay Area Democratic donors.
The left-wing billionaire George Soros has contributed more than $40 million in the past decade to install liberal prosecutors in half of the United States’ largest jurisdictions. Many moved quickly after their election to reverse long standing bail and sentencing guidelines for most low-level offenses, hoping to reduce incarceration.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, Soros defended his reform prosecutor movement, citing a study that he said proves "no connection between the election of reform-minded prosecutors and local crime rates." He blamed a "rise in mental illness" and "gun trafficking" for the crime spike, even as he noted "a pullback in policing in the wake of public criminal-justice reform protests."
But Rafael Mangual, the head of the Manhattan Institute’s Policing and Public Safety Initiative, told the Free Beacon that the study isn’t the silver bullet Soros claims. The authors said they could not "rule out large increases or decreases in any particular type of crime," and did not focus solely on the most radical criminal justice policies. All told, Mangual says the study "doesn’t prove decarceration works."
Rising crime is on the ballot in a number of upcoming elections. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi is running against DCCC chairman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s 17th district. During the height of racial justice protests in 2020, Biaggi supported efforts to "defund the police" and called police officers "soulless." Recent polls show her trailing Maloney by double digits.
Still, law enforcement groups aren't ready to declare victory over progressive prosecutors yet. Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told the Free Beacon the battle against left-wing criminal justice prosecutors and candidates won’t be easily won. In a recent Maryland election, an unknown public defender boosted by nearly $1 million in Soros funding almost unseated a four-term Democratic prosecutor.
"While it is encouraging to see that San Francisco and Baltimore voters have voted to end the tenure of their radical progressive prosecutors, I’m not sure this signals a broad rejection of these policies," Johnson said. "It seems to me that most voters are still unaware of the harmful effects of the decarceration and depolicing movements."