How a Recall of DA George Gasc贸n Could Reshape the L.A. Mayor’s Race

Election officials in L.A. County are now verifying the 715,833 signatures to recall the embattled district attorney, who has been accused of being soft on crime

A potential recall of crusading Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gasc贸n, which has now entered a new phase, could create a major headache for Rep. Karen Bass and her mayoral campaign.

At least 566,857 valid signatures are required to qualify the recall of Gasc贸n for the November ballot. Recall proponents, headed by families of crime victims and deputies from the D.A.鈥檚 own office, turned in 715,833 signatures. Election officials from the office of the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder are now verifying signatures; the deadline for an official decision is August 17.聽

Initially, both Bass and her fellow mayoral hopeful, billionaire mall mogul Rick Caruso, were supportive of Gasc贸n after his surprise victory over incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey in 2020. But Caruso has since disavowed Gasc贸n and publicly endorsed the current (and second) recall effort targeting the embattled official.聽

Caruso, a real estate developer and the former president of the city police commission, has reportedly also donated $50,000 to the campaign to get rid of the progressive prosecutor, whose reform agenda is beset by charges that he鈥檚 鈥渟oft on crime.鈥

Bass, who came out on top in the June 7 primary but will face Caruso in a November runoff, invited the D.A. to attend the launch event for her mayoral bid. The 10-year congresswoman has kept mum on her ties to Gasc贸n, but during a live interview on July 8, a weeknight anchor for Fox L.A. News Elex Michaelson asked the congresswoman if she plans to campaign against a potential Gasc贸n recall or invite him to campaign alongside her.

鈥淢y focus is going to be on the mayor鈥檚 race鈥鈥檓 not going to be focused on the recall,鈥 she responded, then went on to characterize the chances the recall will qualify for the ballot as 鈥渄oubtful.鈥澛

Bass may be correct鈥攖he fate of the recall is unclear and many expect the decision on whether or not to certify could come down to the wire. Still, leading proponents of the effort to recall Gasc贸n accuse Bass of wishful thinking.聽聽

鈥淲hether it qualifies or not is going to be up to the Registrar-Recorder,鈥 said Steve Cooley, the former three-term D.A. and a leader of the Recall Gasc贸n effort. 鈥淯nless [Bass] has a crystal ball or can see into the future, she ought not to venture any opinion on the subject. And the fact she鈥檚 not willing to take a stand on the recall shows that she lacks courage and judgment and does not value public safety.鈥

If the invalidation rate is 21% or higher, the petition to recall the D.A. will not qualify for the ballot, recall proponents say. But if the invalidation rate is 20% or lower, it will qualify 鈥攖hen the decision will be up to voters during the general election in November or in a special election that鈥檚 likely to be held in January 2023.

A failed recall would allow Bass to remain above the fray. The closest she came to a flip-flop was several months ago when the website Stand With Gasc贸n quietly took down Bass鈥檚 name from the endorsers on the site. The congresswoman, through a spokesperson, told LAMag that her name had been included by mistake.

In the event that a measure to recall Gasc贸n does qualify for the ballot, it will almost certainly reshape the political landscape of the mayor鈥檚 race, leaving Bass to ignore it at her own political peril.

Yet Bass is not the only finalist in the race for mayor who would face some awkward conversations in the event the recall is certified. In an April 8 email obtained by LAMag, a top organizer for informed the movement鈥檚 army of volunteers that they are officially forbidden from seeking petition signatures at the luxury mall, The Grove, as well as Palisades Village, and the Americana鈥攁ll high-end shopping centers in L.A. owned by Caruso.

Representatives for Recall Gasc贸n and Caruso did not return requests for comment on the alleged ban.

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