Columns

Expect the Worst When Ballots Are Counted in the L.A. District Attorney's Race

Official Los Angeles County District Attorney portrait of Jackie Lacey.

It appears – for the time being, at least – that Los Angeles County has narrowly avoided a catastrophe. No, it wasn’t a fire or flood that was averted, nor was it an outbreak of the coronavirus or some other contagion. It was something far more threatening and potentially deadly than any of these. It was the election of a “progressive” district attorney.

As things stand as of this writing, two-term incumbent Jackie Lacey holds 50.14 percent of the votes counted, a slim majority that, if it endures, will save her from a November runoff with second-place finisher George Gascón. Gascón currently holds 27.22 percent of the vote, while a second challenger, public defender Rachel Rossi, holds 22.64 percent.

But, because this is Los Angeles, and because Gascón is a well-financed darling of the left, I have every confidence that by the time all the ballots are counted, a sufficient number of Gascón or Rossi ballots will have been mysteriously “found” in a closet, in a trash can, or in the trunk of some precinct worker’s car to force a runoff. When elections are close, somehow it is always the leftist candidate who benefits. Odd.

Should a runoff indeed occur, look for the drama that attended the primary to intensify. On Monday, Victoria Taft reported on an incident in which Black Lives Matter protesters came to Lacey’s home in the pre-dawn hours and staged a demonstration. What they clearly hoped for was a confrontation suitable for YouTube and other social media, and unfortunately, that is exactly what they got when some of the protesters went onto the property and knocked on the door. Apparently awakened and alarmed by the commotion, Lacey’s husband David came to the door armed with a handgun and threatened to shoot the people on his doorstep. Los Angeles Police Department officers responded but made no arrests.

The incident at Lacey’s home was merely the latest in a series of confrontations between her and a small but determined band of protesters led by Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University Los Angeles. Abdullah describes herself on the school’s website as a “womanist scholar-activist,” and as she is currently on sabbatical it appears she devotes more time and energy to activism than to scholarship. She is a fixture at the weekly meetings of the Los Angeles police commission, where she and her merry band revel in haranguing the commissioners and the police chief over any and all perceived racial grievance. When not at LAPD headquarters, they can be found a block away outside the district attorney’s office.

Abdullah was among the protesters who disrupted a Jan. 29 debate between Lacey, Gascón, and Rossi, which was notable not only for the frequent interruptions but for the way Gascón and Rossi each promised to free more criminals than the other. Rossi took pandering to the criminal element to new heights (or lows) when she placed criminal defendants and crime victims on the same moral plane, saying defendants were actually “victims” too. You can’t make this stuff up.

Under ordinary circumstances, a report of threats with a firearm as alleged by Abdullah would be investigated by the police and reviewed by a deputy district attorney for consideration of criminal charges. Needless to say, the L.A. County D.A.’s office has a conflict of interest in the matter, so the decision to charge him will rest with California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra. We can expect Becerra to be no less partial in the matter than Lacey would have been, though his bias runs in the opposite direction. He is very much today’s archetypal California politician: reliably leftist, ethnocentric, and an enduring presence at the public trough: he has served in various government posts since 1986. And, like many state attorneys general, he aspires to the governor’s office. Gascón was endorsed in the D.A. race by the state Democratic Party, so it’s safe to assume any charging decisions Becerra makes regarding Lacey’s husband will be calculated to further his own ambitions.

The votes in the D.A.’s race are still being counted, but the tally is well within the margin of cheating. Expect the worst.