Gascón declares victory in bitter L.A. County DA’s race after Lacey, region’s 1st Black top prosecutor, concedes

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Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County’s first Black district attorney, on Friday conceded the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office to progressive challenger George Gascón following a bitter race focused on criminal justice reform.

After congratulating Gascón on his “expected victory,” Lacey admitted that her team advised her she did not have enough votes to win reelection.

“There are still about 791,000 votes to count, but my consultants tell me that while I may close the gap between the two of us, I will not be able to make up enough based on the trending of the ballots to win this election,” Lacey said.

As of Thursday, Gascón, the former San Francisco DA, was leading Lacey with nearly 54% of more than 3.5 million votes counted, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office.

Gascón later declared victory in the race.

Lacey was met with applause before and during her speech Friday.

She walked out with her husband, David Lacey, who faced criticism right before the primary election earlier this year for pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters outside the couple’s Granada Hills home.

Exactly eight years to the day that Lacey was first elected, she thanked God, her family and colleagues on Friday.

“To my mom, who constantly asked me, ‘Are you OK?’ And who reminded me during this contentious fight, that no matter what happens, I made history,” she said through tears.

Lacey faced stark criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement during her campaign for not being tough enough on officers involved in deadly incidents.

Since the March incident involving protesters, both David and Jackie Lacey are facing a lawsuit filed by BLM.

The two-term incumbent was also the target of local protests expressing outrage over police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

“The circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Arbery gave breath to an in-progress discussion around racism, policing and criminal justice reform. These incidents were painful and exposed an issue that existed in this country for years: Racism,” she said. “Our nation is going through a reckoning, and what happened in my election may one day be listed as a consequence of that. It may be said that one day, the results of this election is a result of our season of discontent. And a demand to see a tsunami of change.”

Lacey recalled numerous victories during her time in office, including the creation of the complex child abuse unit after the high-profile death of Gabriel Fernandez, as well as the conviction review unit and sexual assault task force.

“It has been an honor to serve you and I wish you well,” Lacey closed. ”I will work with my successor to ensure that there is an orderly transition of leadership in my office. It is time for us as a nation to reconcile, and to begin the healing process together.” 

Gascón, who grew up in Southeast L.A. and is also a former Los Angeles Police Department assistant chief, ran as a progressive and pledged to modernize L.A.’s criminal justice system.

After barely surviving the primary race, he took a comfortable lead in the general election.

“When I entered this race, this movement for reform and this campaign were considered by many to be a long shot, in the largest county in the nation, against a two-term incumbent DA,” Gascón said in his virtual victory speech. “But we’re here, we did it, and I stand before you committed to making lasting changes that will make our communities, safer, healthier, that restore the promise of equal justice for all, both here in L.A. and far beyond.”

He vowed to stop seeking the death penalty, “immediately” stop prosecuting children as adults and added that after meeting with BLM during the campaign, he will meet with the organization again now that he has won the election.

“Black Lives Matter is the result of the failures of our society, and they have a place at the table, just like many others have a place at the table,” Gascón said. “The only condition that I have is that if you come to work, come to work. You don’t have to agree with me, just come to work.”

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