The first of two efforts seeking to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin has failed to gather enough signatures to trigger a special election and bring the question before voters, officials said Wednesday.
Richie Greenberg, a former Republican mayoral candidate and the leader of the effort, brought seven boxes of signed petitions to the Department of Elections at City Hall, but indicated he did not meet the required signature count of 51,325 to get the recall on the ballot, according to Director of Elections John Arntz.
Greenberg said his committee missed the mark by 1,714 signatures. His volunteers collected 52,990 signatures, but determined that 3,379 were either invalid or blatantly fake, filed with fictitious names such as “Ben Dover.” However, Arntz said the signatures were not formally submitted for review and will be destroyed because they contain voter information, so just how close Greenberg came to meeting the required signature count will remain unverified.
“I’m pissed as hell but proud of our recall team. They are amazing people,” Greenberg said. “The team thanks each and every voter that signed our petition and started the process of holding the rogue public officials accountable.”
The news is not completely unexpected. Political consultants have predicted the first recall effort would fail, while the second would succeed simply because of funding, The Examiner previously reported. The latest campaign finance filings show the Greenberg committee collected just $277,000 in contributions as of the end of July, compared to the second recall committee’s $715,000 war chest.
Both committees started based on the perception that Boudin is making San Francisco less safe as a progressive prosecutor who seeks to reduce mass incarceration. Boudin, in response, has pointed to police data showing that overall crime is down, while certain types of crimes like homicide are up.
The second committee is fronted by politicos Mary Jung, former chair of the local Democratic Party, and Andrea Shorter, a longtime member of the Commission on the Status of Women. They started the committee to appeal to a broader range of Democrats and distance the recall from Greenberg and his Republican ties, even though they later took in dollars from deep-pocketed donors that have supported Republican causes.
Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for one of the committees defending Boudin against the attempted recall, said she was not surprised the Greenberg committee failed.
“Richie Greenberg made no secret of the fact that he was going to do everything he could to recall DA Boudin,” Edwards said. “Now we are seeing San Franciscans are standing with Chesa and rejecting this recall.”
If it had collected enough signatures, the Department of Elections would have taken up to 30 days to verify their authenticity and called for a special election sometime in December or January.
While the Greenberg committee had a Wednesday deadline for submitting signatures because it started earlier, the Jung and Shorter committee has until Oct. 25 to also collect 51,325 signatures. Unlike the first committee, which only used volunteers, the second committee is paying for signature gatherers and says it has already collected 50,000 signatures as of Wednesday, though that count is unverified.
If the committee is successful, a Boudin recall could appear on the ballot next June.