District Attorney Chesa Boudin takes part in a merchant walk along San Bruno Avenue in the Portola District to urge people to reject xenophobia and support Asian merchants on Friday, March 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney Chesa Boudin takes part in a merchant walk along San Bruno Avenue in the Portola District to urge people to reject xenophobia and support Asian merchants on Friday, March 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

New Boudin recall effort seeks to reframe narrative

Local Democrats seeking to prevent the recall effort against District Attorney Chesa Boudin from being framed as a conservative power grab have launched a new campaign to unseat the progressive top prosecutor.

The campaign, called San Franciscans for Public Safety, makes a similar argument against Boudin for “failing to keep San Franciscans safe” as an earlier group pushing for his recall, but is fronted by Democrats Mary Jung and Andrea Shorter instead of former Republican mayoral candidate Richie Greenberg.

Reached by phone Monday, Shorter said the new campaign is meant to cast a broader net for San Franciscans who may be interested in recalling Boudin but do not want to be “affiliated” with the earlier effort. She said she supports criminal justice reform, but not at the expense of public safety.

“What we are finding is that there are a great many more San Franciscans that are very interested in recalling this district attorney,” Shorter said. “The way it’s been framed is there’s this ‘conservatives versus progressives’ thing going on, when in fact the inconvenient truth of the matter is no, it’s not that.”

Jung and Shorter fall more on the “moderate” end of the political spectrum among Democrats in San Francisco, having supported candidates in past elections such as Mayor London Breed and district attorney hopeful Suzy Loftus, who lost against Boudin. Jung is the former chair of the local Democratic Party, while Shorter is a longtime member of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Boudin has faced the threat of a recall since Greenberg started an online petition against him in January following the arrest of a parolee who authorities say killed two pedestrians after being released from custody without charges. Greenberg and 28 others, including Democrats, secured approval to begin circulating their petition to recall Boudin in March and have until Aug. 11 to collect 51,325 signatures.

Campaign finance records show the committee has collected nearly $140,000 to support its effort as of the end of March, including $50,000 from Chicago-based investor David O’Keefe and $25,000 from tech entrepreneur David Sacks. Two committees opposing the recall, meanwhile, have brought in about $201,000, including one with major funding from Real Justice PAC, a political action committee seeking to elect “reform-minded prosecutors.”

Shorter said the new recall effort does not currently have any major funding. She said it would be independent of the other recall campaign and plans to circulate its own petition on a different timeline. She also said the old campaign “seems to be lagging behind” in terms of gathering signatures.

Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for the pro-Boudin committee with funding from Real Justice PAC, slammed the latest campaign as simply an effort to “get away from a toxic far-right brand.”

“It’s obvious that this first effort was in serious trouble,” Edwards said. “The reality is this is all part and parcel of the same effort.”

Edwards said she expects to see “big money special interests” attacking Boudin with fear-mongering and misinformation.

In a recent interview, Greenberg said he was “extremely confident” the first campaign would be able to gather enough signatures to bring the recall before voters in a future election. The group said it had collected more than 7,000 signatures as of Monday. Greenberg also disputed the notion that his campaign was Republican-led, saying a Democrat has replaced him as the lead proponent of the effort.

“We are nothing but growing, the whole movement is growing every day, every weekend as more people realize what is happening,” Greenberg said. “We have a whole city voter base that understands and sees that we have a crime problem.”

Jung and Shorter cite “rampant property crimes, car break-ins, drug dealing on the streets, and homicides” as cause for the recall.

While San Francisco did see an increase in homicides in 2020, like other cities around the nation, there have been 10 so far in 2021 as of last week compared to 11 at this time in 2020, police data shows. Larceny thefts, which includes car break-ins, have also fallen by nearly 35 percent as of Sunday, according to police.

Home and commercial burglaries, however, have surged dramatically since the pandemic began, with a 36 percent jump from 1,713 to 2,335 so far in 2021 compared to this time last year. There has also been a significant uptick in non-fatal shootings.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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