LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Incumbent Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey Wednesday was hoping to avoid a November runoff and keep her post for a third term as she battles George Gascón, who was San Francisco’s top prosecutor for 11 years, and federal public defender Rachel Rossi.
Semi-official results from Tuesday’s election showed Lacey with 50.69 percent of the vote, just above the 50 percent majority mark she needs to win reelection without need for a runoff. Gascón was in second, at 26.83 percent, with Rossi in third at 22.47 percent.
Lacey had received 489,835 votes, while Gascón had received 259,307 votes and Rossi 217,165.
Just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan announced that the latest numbers were semi-official results. It was unclear how many late, provisional or mail-in ballots still need to be tallied.
Gascón held a public event at Union Station Tuesday night while Lacey was said to be spending a private evening with her family.
“This is not just simply a race to elect a DA or to elect me,” Gascón said Tuesday. “This is really about a national movement. This is about bringing the criminal justice system into the 21st century.”
Rossi made a surprisingly strong showing against Gascon, notable because she was significantly outspent by the other two contenders, who also boasted more influential endorsements. The Lacey and Gascon campaigns, including independent committees, both raised more than $2 million.
In Lacey’s case, the vast majority of the money came from unions representing police and sheriff’s deputies, while roughly three-quarters of Gascon’s cash came from two progressive Northern California contributors, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
Despite having held similar posts, the two prosecutors have divergent ideas about how to run the D.A.’s office.
Gascon positioned himself as the progressive candidate, identifying himself on the ballot as a Justice Reform Advocate rather than a prosecutor and former police deputy chief.
Lacey was seen as the more conservative choice, despite her work on diversion programs for mentally ill offenders and in establishing a conviction review unit. That’s in part because she opposed measures like Prop 57, which provides early parole for some non-violent crimes, and Prop 47, which reduced some felonies to misdemeanors.
Lacey, who is completing her second term, was first elected in 2012 beating criminal prosecutor Alan Jackson in a November election with 55 percent of the vote. In 2016 she was reelected after running unopposed.
But recently, Lacey has faced criticism from groups like Black Lives Matter over her apparent reluctance to prosecute high-profile suspects like Ed Buck and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department who have fatally shot unarmed black men.
Lacey’s husband is under investigation after he was caught on video pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters outside the couple’s Granada Hills home Monday morning.
Gascón is a former district attorney of San Francisco, having been appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Kamala Harris. Gascón was elected to the seat in 2015, and served until he resigned last October.
Gascón, the architect of Proposition 47 which turned a number of non-violent felonies into misdemeanors and erased jail time associated with those crimes, claims on his website that L.A County is the largest county and the largest jailer in the nation.
Rossi is a one-time public defender who also worked in the senate judiciary. On her website she says that reducing crime and ending mass incarceration are two of her priorities.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)