Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday endorsed the man he once appointed as police chief and district attorney in San Francisco in the race for the top prosecutor’s job in Los Angeles.
Newsom endorsed George Gascon in his campaign to unseat District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who is seeking a third term to lead the largest local prosecutor’s office in the nation.
Gascon, a former assistant Los Angeles police chief, is running as a progressive seeking to reform the criminal justice system. Gascon reduced crime and incarceration during his time in San Francisco, Newsom said.
“He burnished a national reputation as a leader in the fight to reform our dated system of justice,” Newsom said of Gascon in a statement. “This November Angelenos will choose who to turn to as calls to reimagine our dated system of justice grow louder, and I urge them to join me once again in turning to George Gascón.”
Lacey, who said she’s also committed to reform measures, issued a statement saying she’s focused on winning the race and keeping Los Angeles County residents safe.
Lacey, who is the first woman and first Black person to run the office, has been targeted by Black Lives Matter for a record of rarely prosecuting police for fatal shootings.
Lacey has filed manslaughter charges in one killing by a police officer, but she has not brought charges in 340 other fatal shootings by officers. Lacey said Gascon failed to hold officers accountable when he was a prosecutor, though he had far fewer such cases.
Lacey narrowly lost being re-elected in a three-way primary in March, falling just short of the majority of votes needed against Gascon and a former public defender who were both running to her left. Gascon advanced with the second-highest number of votes.
Lacey is endorsed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, among others.
Gascon’s supporters include Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Gascon was picked by Newsom to replace Harris as San Francisco DA when she was elected California attorney general in 2011. Newsom had appointed Gascon police chief in 2009.