With recall approaching, DA Chesa Boudin's media hits multiply

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Earlier this month we learned there was a real chance progressive DA Chesa Boudin would be recalled. A poll commissioned by the recall organizers but conducted by a reputable San Francisco polling agency found 2:1 support for the recall and further found that 74% of respondents had a negative view of Boudin.


Since then, Boudin has clearly been making the round and doing his best to turn things around. Yesterday Puck published an interview with Boudin in which he simultaneously admitted some people in San Francisco don’t feel safe and also blamed his predicament on the media and the pandemic.

Today, it’s the LA Times turn to try and rehabilitate Boudin with a lengthy profile that reads like a campaign press release:

By junior high, years of therapy helped channel his rage and guilt into ambition and achievement. “It was a very conscious decision,” Kass said. “He just worked harder at everything than everybody in everything he did. Whether he was good at it or not.”

He was the A-student who read the most books, the multitasker who editorialized against the abolition of a free period, which he used to email family, eat, talk to teachers, get library books, make photocopies, attend club meetings and catch up on “those little things adults call errands.”

His nickname was the Shark: Always moving, or you die.


At this point, I’m trying not to groan out loud while reading this but then we get to an even weirder story about Boudin’s childhood.

In a home that was a salon for children as well as adults, Chesa developed both a hard shell and an outspoken sense of injustice.

When teachers told him to wear a name tag the first day at school, Chesa threw such a fit that Ayers had to intercede. The problem was not the name tag, but the itchy yarn around his neck, Boudin recalled in an interview. Thirty-three years later, righteous indignation still tinged his voice:

“I wasn’t being rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. I was uncomfortable.”

He threw a fit over yarn and we’re supposed to see this as some kind of sign of future greatness? I really don’t see it. This is an embarrassing story of a spoiled brat who somehow has gained no perspective on his own behavior 33 years later. Childhood antics aside, the story makes it very clear that more than just Boudin’s future is at stake.

San Francisco voters’ verdict on Boudin will reverberate far beyond the city’s 47 square miles, including in Los Angeles, where Dist. Atty. George Gascón faces a potential recall. Because if you can’t make radical change in San Francisco, what future does the progressive prosecutor movement have?…

Boudin had won election by being the outsider who criticized a failed system; now he owned the system. To redefine public safety, to demonstrate that communities can be safe locking up fewer people, to build a consensus for programs that might break cycles of recidivism, would take years.


Chesa “The Shark” Boudin is not the saviour of the system. He’s not even a stand in for progressive prosecutors as a whole. He’s just the wrong man for the job. And no matter how many interviews he gives or how many fawning stories are written about him, the problem he has is that reality keeps reminding people things are not good in San Francisco. Until stuff like this stops happening every week, Boudin is not going to be a popular figure.

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