Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) endorsed George Gascón on Tuesday in his campaign to be the next district attorney of Los Angeles County, which has become a major battleground for progressives with an eye toward prison reform.
“George Gascón is a proven leader of national significance when it comes to reforming our criminal justice system,” Harris, who ended her presidential bid in December, said in a statement. Both she and Gascón have served as San Francisco DAs, with the latter stepping down in October to run in the county where he grew up.
“As DA of San Francisco, George led fights to reform the Three Strikes Law, decrease the state prison population and get people convicted of nonviolent offenses greater opportunities to get their lives back on track,” her endorsement continued. “As DA of LA County, I know George Gascón will work every day to keep our communities safe and demand real accountability from our justice system and real justice for every Angeleno.”
Gascón has also picked up key endorsements from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and the LA County Democrats, giving him a boost in his effort to unseat incumbent District Attorney Jackie Lacey, the tough-on-crime prosecutor who’s now found herself in the most competitive race of her career.
Lacey, who made history as the first woman and the first Black person to serve in the role, has opposed almost every reform measure that’s come up during her eight years in office and has come under fire with Black Lives Matter protesters for not prosecuting police officers who have killed members of the community.
Another challenger to Lacey is former public defender Rachel Rossi, a progressive candidate who has firsthand experience seeing the harm prosecutors may cause when they imprison people who do not pose a public safety threat. Both Rossi’s and Gascón’s campaigns have been fueled by the national movement to elect more progressive DAs.
The three will face off in California’s March 3 election. Unless one of them earns more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will go on to compete in November.