Okay. When the last vote count was released this past Tuesday (March 10), two-term Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey — while still well ahead of both of the two challengers who hoped to unseat her — lost her hold on the necessary 50 percent plus one vote that is needed to avoid a runoff contest in November, and had slipped down to 49.94 percent of the vote, with 691,958 individual votes.
The difference was just a bare sliver of a percentage point, but it was the continuation of a trend that was moving away from the magic 50-percent-plus-one needed to end the race.
Then at 4 p.m. today, Friday, when the new vote count was released, the trend away from a runoff continued.
Lacey’s new count as of Friday evening is 799,898 votes, which comprises 49.25 percent of the total. Again, the DA’s percentage of the votes was only a sliver lower than that of Tuesday, meaning any kind of significant bounce upward between now and the end of the vote count would put her in safe territory.
Yet, thus far, after the very first count, the movement has been away from safety for DA Lacey, and toward a runoff.
As has been the case since election day, former longtime cop and retired San Francisco DA George Gascón remained in the second position on Friday, with his slice of the vote total edging up one more time to 27.98 percent of the vote (up from 27.68 percent on Tuesday) or 454,417 votes (up from 383.183 votes).
Former public defender, Rachel Rossi, remains close-ish behind Gascón, with Rossi’s percentage also rising a bit, from 22.40 percent on Tuesday to 22.78 percent Friday, or 369,932 votes.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, the DA’s race has drawn in an unusual amount of money from various interest groups, and stimulated very strong emotions on all sides of the race.
Lacey, 62, the first woman and the first African American to hold the position since it was established in 1850, has for eight years led the largest local prosecutorial office in the nation, overseeing approximately 1,000 lawyers, 300 investigators, and 800 support staff.
On her campaign site, her primary pitch to voters is that she is the person with the necessary experience and judgment to do this very big and consequential job.
“As District Attorney,” she writes to voters, “I go to work every day to pursue justice and protect people’s rights.”
Since Gascón and Rossi announced their candidacies in October and November of last year respectively, they have each characterized the race as a referendum on whether or not Los Angeles County will get the reform that justice advocates say it urgently needs.
In addition, problems have continued to arise in the county’s big and complicated prosecutors’ office, and they are of a nature that clearly need to be addressed, whoever winds up leading the place.
On his campaign site, Gascón, 65, portrays himself as the person with the will and experience to accomplish the needed reform and take the county’s justice system into the future.
“L.A. is a modern city,” he tells would-be voters on the opening page, “and it deserves a modern system of justice. The criminal justice system must change in the face of overwhelming data and scientific evidence that proves the way we’ve done business the past forty years is not only inhumane and expensive – it does not make our communities safer.”
Prominent on her campaign site, Rossi, 37, has her own strongly reform-minded statement of purpose that suggests her experience has given her a much needed fresh perspective.
“If we want a new vision of justice,” she writes, “we can’t stick to the same old playbook. We need a new kind of District Attorney.”
Three candidates with three points of view.
And if the vote total trend continues, the top two of the three candidates will have one more opportunity to make their individual pitches to LA County voters.
The LA County Registrar-Recorder’s office said that, as of Friday evening, an estimated 219,500 ballots remain to be counted.
(When we last spoke to the R-R people, like everyone else, they appeared to be trying to figure out how to get their very crucial work accomplished while protecting employees during this unusual and anxiety-inducing time.)
Stay safe, everybody!