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Rick Caruso Endorses Nathan Hochman for LA DA

Big Name, Big Endorsement, Big Money?

By Thomas Buckley, June 25, 2024 5:36 pm

Caruso Endorses Hochman. (Photo: Hochman campaign)

Billionaire developer and former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso today endorsed Nathan Hochman  for county district attorney.

Hochman and Caruso appeared together in front of the Casa Vega family restaurant in Sherman Oaks, a local small business that has suffered numerous criminal incidents since current DA George Gascon took office in 2020.

“When one looks at the state of Los Angeles County, the need for justice and accountability is clear. Over the past four years, victims of crime have been abandoned while repeat offenders continue to cause harm. Our current District Attorney appears more concerned with letting criminals reoffend than protecting our communities. Enough is enough of George Gascon’s pro-criminal creeds,” Caruso said.  “We need a new leader who will curb violent and property crime, prioritize victims, and work to address the underlying factors of delinquency…Nathan will be a just leader in the D.A.’s office. He will focus on what matters most: advocating for the voiceless and pursuing a safer, more just Los Angeles.”

Caruso, a developer whose projects like The Grove have been targeted by thieves far more frequently recently, ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Karen Bass in 2022.  While “walk-in” voting showed him ahead, he trailed Bass in the “mail-in” ballots, sealing his fate.

Prior to the March DA’s race primary, Caruso was not a supporter of Hochman’s, and not of Gascon’s (though he did support Gascon in 2020.).  He made relatively small – for him – donations of $7,500 each to Gascon challengers Jeff Chemerinsky – seen as a “Gascon lite” candidate (in other words, a progressive reformer who would still actually follow the law when need be) – and deputy district attorney Eric Siddall, one of Gascon’s earliest internal critics.

It is not yet known if and/or how much Caruso has and/or will donate to Hochman’s campaign, though that should be made clear in a few weeks when the new campaign finance reports are released.  In his race in 2020, Gascon far outraised (he had more than $12 million) then-sitting DA Jackie Lacey, helping him beat her in the November runoff.

Caruso – who was Republican but switched to Democrat for the mayor’s race – has also of late begun donating to larger Democratic causes and candidates. Late last year, Poltico reported that Caruso pledged to spend an undisclosed sum in 2024 to defeat five California Republican members of Congress.

“We’ve got to get things moving and get out of this ridiculous constant fighting and everybody kicking sand in each other’s face in the sandbox,” Caruso told Politico’s Christopher Cadelago and Melanie Mason of his plans. He will “(S)tick with the central theme of getting moderates in the House,” Caruso said.  “I am not out to support extremists or, frankly, ideologues.”

In Hochman’s case, this concept does ring true.  Hochman shifted from Republican to independent (“decline to state”) before the DA’s election, saying that as the position is non-partisan, candidates for it should be as well.

“I am grateful to Rick Caruso for endorsing my candidacy for District Attorney and for recognizing the urgent need to restore trust, integrity and independence to the District Attorney’s Office for the sake of the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County, who are less safe today than they were four years ago, due to Gascon’s political experimentation with their safety and quality of life,” Hochman said. “Rick has dedicated his life to public service and, as former president of the L.A. Police Commission, knows well what it takes to protect our community from criminals and help residents, business owners and visitors return to a safer time when criminals were held accountable, and victims were heard and supported by prosecutors.”

The vote – which is looking dimmer and dimmer for Gascon –  is in November.

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