A crowded field of candidates has entered the district attorney’s race this year in a bid to unseat Los Angeles County D.A. George Gascon, who last year faced a failed recall attempt after following criticism for his policies as district attorney.

Gascon’s three years in office have been controversial. After taking office in 2020, he pledged to ease prison sentences for minor crimes and misdemeanors and prosecute more police officers for misconduct.

Gascon has previously said his policy of reducing penalties for those who commit crimes is aimed at reducing mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He won office with that message in 2020 when he unseated former D.A. Jackie Lacey.

After taking office, he ordered his staff to no longer seek sentencing enhancements, prosecute juveniles as adults, or seek the death penalty. This sparked a revolt from prosecutors who said he was doing too much too quickly.

Unpopular with law enforcement, unions such as the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and Los Angeles Police Protective League have been among the D.A.’s sharpest critics. They argue he is simply too lenient on people who commit crimes.

Gascon has taken the hardened criticism in stride, telling Spectrum News back in March, “I think this is the essence of democracy, and I welcome that. I think the public should have the opportunity to look at my work — I stand on my record, look at others, see what they have to offer, and at the end of the day, people will decide.”

He also has an interesting take on how well his commitment to restorative justice holds up to others, telling KCRW last year, “Crime is going up at higher rates in most conservative counties,” Gascón said. “Just locking up as many people as you can for as long as you can — if that was the currency of safety, then those communities would be incredibly safe. But the reality is that they’re not.”

Some of the candidates perceived to be major challengers to Gascon are:

Craig Mitchell

Best known for founding the Skid Row Running Club, Mitchell raised $100,000 for his campaign through grassroots efforts in the 2024 race and was named a CNN Hero in 2019 for his work with the Club, a nonprofit organization founded in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge since 2005, Mitchell is a former high school teacher who served as deputy district attorney for 11 years. If elected, Mitchell plans to repeal several provisions within Prop 47, such as reinstating a rule that those who commit smash-and-grab robberies would be sent to prison, and those who commit repeated thefts would potentially face prison sentences.

Jeff Chemerinsky

A federal prosecutor since 2014, Chemerinsky served as Chief of the Violent and Organized Crime unit of the United States District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. He has received endorsements from City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, Civil Rights Attorney Connie Rice, Former City Controller Laura Chick, Former L.A. Police Commissioner Rob Saltzman, as well as several former L.A. Police Commissioners.

His father, Erwin Chemerinsky is a legal scholar and dean at UC Berkeley Law School and was on the transition team for George Gascon.

Nathan Hochman

The Former Assistant U.S. Attorney served as a federal prosecutor in L.A. and is a former president of the L.A. Ethics Commission. Hochman ran as a Republican nominee for California Attorney General in 2022. He has received endorsements from other former U.S. Attorneys such as Nicola Hanna, Debra Wong Yang, Sandra Brown, Robert Bonner, and Joyce Dudley, former DA from Santa Barbara County.

Hochman raised $665,000 in the first half of this year, according to an article by the Daily Wire.

Other Candidates

Other candidates for district attorney include:

Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, an Army veteran, has been a prosecutor since 2006, with a focus on child sex abuse cases.  He runs an X account attacking Gascon and highlighting specific incidents of crime throughout Los Angeles.

L.A. Superior Court Judge Debra Archuleta was a deputy district attorney and has been on the bench since 2016.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California John McKinney has been a prosecutor for 25 years and focuses on major crimes.

Retired L.A. County Superior Court Judge David S. Milton works in private practice and served on the bench from 1995 until 2014. Before that, he was a deputy district attorney.

Deputy District Attorney Maria Ramirez. Ramirez has been a prosecutor for three decades, with a focus on prosecuting gang violence and drug trafficking, according to her website.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Siddall. Siddall has been a prosecutor for 16 years, with a focus on violent gang crime cases. He is a former vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the union that represents rank-and-file prosecutors.

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