Los Angeles County Democrats endorsed former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón over incumbent Jackie Lacey on Tuesday night, intensifying what’s expected to be a hard-fought race to determine who will serve as the county’s top prosecutor beyond 2020.
Lacey has spent the last several months trying to establish her credibility as a progressive Democrat as she faces challenges from a number of candidates carving out platforms left of her own. But that mission hit a snag last week when she held a fundraiser organized by a firm with ties to President Trump’s reelection campaign just days before the Los Angeles County Democratic Party held endorsement interviews.
Her campaign cut ties with the group after being informed by The Times of its past work on Trump’s behalf. The county party’s endorsement committee advised delegates to endorse Gascón on Sunday night.
Lacey still boasts a litany of endorsements from powerful elected figures including Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and four members of the county Board of Supervisors. She also has the backing of the unions that represent rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers and county sheriff’s deputies and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who backed Lacey in a not-so subtle swipe at Gascón.
Gascón, who did not enter the race until October, has the backing of former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and the Real Justice political action committee, which has worked to elect progressive prosecutors in elections throughout the country in recent years.
In addition to Gascón, Lacey will also face off with former public defender Rachel Rossi and Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Ceballos in a March primary that will test the county’s appetite for criminal justice reform.
While Lacey has championed conviction integrity reviews and diversionary programs for mentally ill defendants, she has been criticized by Gascón, Rossi and Ceballos for the county’s high incarceration rate and her office’s perceived hesitance to prosecute law enforcement officers in a number of questionable on-duty shootings.
The first debate of the election cycle will take place Wednesday night at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park. Lacey has declined to participate because of a scheduling conflict, according to a campaign spokesman.
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