Why recall election for San Fran’s DA should rattle NY’s Bragg

Tuesday’s election recall for San Francisco’s progressive district attorney could signal an earthquake that leads to the ouster of embattled, soft-on-crime Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, legal experts said.

“If [Chesa] Boudin is removed it should send shockwaves throughout every progressive prosecutor’s office,” Manhattan prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Mark Bederow said Monday.

“Every progressive prosecutor, Bragg included, will take note that if a progressive prosecutor in San Francisco can be thrown overboard by an overwhelming liberal electorate, voters elsewhere — including Manhattan — may do the same thing.”

Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, noted: “Obviously, Bragg will be watching” the results of Boudin’s recall election.

“I think people are coming to their senses that you have to have a rule of law,” he said.

“You also have reporting that the city is losing population and there’s no question that that is related to safety…In New York, we need to get recall on the ballot.”

Former Manhattan prosecutor Daniel Bibb said he didn’t think Bragg, a Democrat, was “paying much attention” to the election in California — but probably should.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is facing a recall election this week that was initiated by voters frustrated with his soft-on-crime policies.
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

“Because rising crime rates are a concern to everyone, whether you are liberal or conservative,” said Bibb, now a defense lawyer.

“And a lot of the people who put him into office are the people who live in neighborhoods where crime rates are going through the roof.”

Halim Dhanidina, a former California appeals judge, said Boudin’s recall election “will have an effect on Bragg because speaking within the rubric within partisan politics, the progressive prosecutor movement was spawned from the Democratic Party.

“And it has been able to succeed because the DAs who have been elected to office have been in urban environments that are safe for Democrats,” Dhanidina said.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg could face a similar ouster if Boudin is successfully recalled, according to legal exports.
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg could face a similar ouster if Boudin is successfully recalled, according to legal exports.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

“If what you see in San Francisco, perhaps the most famously progressive city in the country, is a rejection of some of these ideals in an overwhelming Democratic electorate, I think Democratic politicians…will see that it is actually a significant political risk to being the most progressive when it comes to crime and punishment.”

With a Friday poll showing 56 percent of voters poised to remove Boudin, New York state Republican chairman Nick Langworthy said, “Even the liberal mecca of San Francisco has woken up to the disastrous impacts of Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies and are having major buyer’s remorse.”

Although Gov. Kathy Hochul — who in January publicly warned Bragg about her power to remove him from office — “will never have the courage” to make good on that threat, Bragg’s “days are numbered” if she loses to a Republican in November, Langworthy said.

New York state Republican chairman Nick Langworthy said Bragg's "days are numbered" if a Republican is elected governor.
New York state Republican chairman Nick Langworthy said Bragg’s “days are numbered” if a Republican is elected governor.
William Farrington

GOP candidate and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, said, “District attorneys aren’t paid by the public to give criminals a free ride, they’re paid to keep our streets safe.”

“Any DA who doesn’t understand that, like Alvin Bragg in Manhattan, will be immediately removed from office if I’m elected governor,” he added.

Another Republican candidate, Harry Wilson – who donated to 2021 Bragg’s campaign before becoming a fierce critic of his former Harvard classmate – said in a prepared statement: “Woke District Attorneys across the country are making their constituents less safe.”

“Fortunately, in New York, the governor has the authority to remove rogue District Attorneys, which is exactly what I will do as Governor,” he added.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino vowed to remove Bragg from office if elected governor.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino vowed to remove Bragg from office if elected governor.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Bragg sparked widespread outrage shortly after taking office in January by unveiling policies that included not seeking prison time except for killings and a handful of other crimes, and downgrading felonies in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing.

The embattled prosecutor later reversed some changes, including by announcing, “The default in gun cases is a felony prosecution.”

But New Yorkers have continued to blast his lenient approach to law enforcement, with one crime victim recently telling The Post that she’s “beyond outraged” and “very disgusted.”

A spokeswoman for Hochul — who signed legislation Monday to strengthen New York’s gun laws — said the governor “will continue working with the legislature, law enforcement, and local leaders to combat crime and keep New Yorkers safe.”

“Making the criminal justice system more fair is an inextricable part of combating violent crime. The DA will continue to work closely with community leaders, law enforcement partners and elected officials to achieve public safety for all New Yorkers,” said Bragg spokesman Doug Cohen.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner


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