An earthquake is building in Tuesday’s California elections that could rattle the political landscape from coast to coast.
In Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of the nation’s most liberal large cities, voters are poised to send stinging messages of discontent over mounting public disorder, as measured in both upticks in certain kinds of crime and pervasive homelessness.
That dissatisfaction could translate into the recall of San Francisco’s left-leaning district attorney, Chesa Boudin, likely by a resounding margin, and a strong showing in the Los Angeles mayoral primary by Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer and former Republican who has emerged as the leading alternative in the race to Democratic US Rep. Karen Bass, once considered the front-runner.
Linking both these contests – as well as several Los Angeles City Council races and an ongoing effort to recall George Gascon, Los Angeles County’s left-leaning district attorney – is a widespread sense among voters in both cities that local government is failing at its most basic responsibility: to ensure public safety and order. It’s a sentiment similar to the anxiety over urban disarray that inspired the “broken windows” policing theory during the 1980s, and contributed to the election of Republican Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan in New York and Los Angeles, respectively, amid the cascading violence of the crack epidemic in the early 1990s.