The two groups working on separate petitions to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin have seen new spikes in support and funding according to newly released data this week, fueled by increased voter frustration over a worsening crime wave and fewer criminals being pursued for jail sentences.
Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.
The petitions to recall Boudin were both started earlier this year within a few months of each other. Like the campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom which had begun late last year, support for the recall was initially limited. However, both of the recall movements saw support to quickly rise after massive changes and well-publicized incidents.
For Newsom’s recall, support quickly snowballed over several months following a refusal to end lockdowns in early 2021, the French Laundry incident, in which Newsom didn’t follow several of his own COVID-19 guidelines, and businesses across the state being hurt by his COVID-19 policies. The Boudin recall, meanwhile, saw support quickly rise through the spring and summer due to multiple factors, including his insistence on either not prosecuting or giving an early release to criminals, which subsequently led to those committing more crimes, including murder, as well as rising crime in the city.
While Boudin supporters initially said that Boudin’s measures were working and that crime only seemed to be going up due to well-publicized incidents such as a news reporter being robbed while reporting on a string of car break-ins, hard data, including statistics coming from the SFPD itself, have shown that crimes have indeed been going up. The new data has silenced many recall critics and has only helped the recall movements gain support.
The San Franciscans for Public Safety Supporting the Recall of Chesa Boudin group, which has until October 25th to collect 51,325 signatures, has seen donations skyrocket to nearly $650,000 so far. The other major group, the Committee Supporting the Recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, has seen $273,000 come in since earlier this year, but is also facing a more imminent deadline of August 11th to get enough valid signatures.
While both groups have not yet released signature data, specifically, the number of signatures collected and the number needed to hit the threshold and the ‘safety’ threshold in case of a number of unusable signatures, they have both remained optimistic of their chances due to the growing movement against Boudin, as well as the Newsom recall campaign beginning to show more voter support heading in favor of Newsom being recalled.
“We’ve got two weeks more or less to go, but we are very confident,” said Recall committee spokesman and lead proponent Richie Greenberg earlier this week.
In March, Greenberg also noted that “This recall effort is the first of its kind in our city and the nation. Law-abiding, fed-up citizens are pushing back against activist District Attorneys who’ve gone too far and are destroying our cities. In Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, New Orleans, we also see similar stories of public defenders with little to no prosecutor experience being elected DA, and once sworn-in, they summarily dismantle the criminal justice system. People are dying, our streets are dangerous, our homes are targets, business owners close shop and flee due to an unworkable environment. San Francisco is united in its desire to move on from the failure of Mr. Boudin’s experiment.”
SF DA Boudin supporters
However, Boudin supporters, who have raised less than $500,000 in total among two groups despite the backing of large donors such as George Soros, have changed tactics to attack where the Boudin opposition groups are getting their money. Original arguments in favor of Boudin, such as claiming that crime has not gone up, have turned out to be ineffective in recent months following a growing spike in crimes, despite Boudin saying that he would crack down more on the recent wave.
“District Attorney Boudin has stood up to powerful special interests so it’s no surprise that ultra-wealthy individuals and dark money PACs have targeted him in an attempt to redo the 2019 election,” said Stand with Chesa spokeswoman Julie Edwards in a Fox News interview earlier this week. “These PACs have gone to great lengths to hide their donors from the public but San Franciscans won’t be fooled – we’ve heard from thousands of voters who stand with District Attorney Boudin and oppose the radical recall. It’s alarming.”
Political experts, meanwhile, are starting to notice similarities between the recall efforts of Newsom and Boudin.
“Both Newsom and Boudin had their first recall petitions filed one year after they took office, the minimum to do so in California,” said former lobbyist Harry Schultz, who has monitored and advised on recall campaigns in California since the late 90’s, in a Globe interview on Thursday. “Both saw support increase following huge nationwide stories that painted them negatively and decisions that proved to be very controversial. And both recall movements have been doing quite well despite being in largely Democratically held areas, Newsom having California and Boudin being in the more liberal San Francisco County.”
“For them to face a recall in California it’s incredible, but it goes to show just how upset they’ve made people. When voters say we want someone not as extreme as you, or in Newsom’s case, a Republican, in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one no less, well, they did something wrong.”
“And now Boudin is starting to go through what Newsom did recall-wise this year. These huge spurts of funding against him are a big indicator there. I wish we had signature data, but once we have that, or at least see what the group with the August-expiring petition wound up with, we can see where we are big-picture wise when it comes to a possible Boudin recall either this year or next.”
The first Boudin recall petition’s deadline is in two weeks.