In this reputedly progressive city, tech and real estate money has bankrolled a centrist backlash.

By Christopher D. Cook, The Nation

After just two years in office, Chesa Boudin, the district attorney of San Francisco, gets blamed for every crime in the book—even offenses committed before he took office and beyond the city limits. For his efforts to tackle wage theft, end cash bail, expand the program that diverts nonviolent offenders from prison, and prosecute abusive cops, Boudin has been rewarded with a recall campaign scapegoating him for all of this city’s woes. The vote takes place on June 7, and recent polls suggest it will be an uphill battle for Boudin and progressives.

Loaded with cash from local billionaires, Big Tech, and other corporate interests, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco and an allied group called San Franciscans for Public Safety have poured a whopping $6.5 million into the campaign to recall Boudin. Real estate interests have also kicked in, including more than $600,000 from Shorenstein Realty Services, a major local developer. As the Democratic strategist Cooper Teboe told Forbes, Boudin is “the unfortunate recipient of all of the anger from the investor class and the billionaire class.” The recall’s top funder is the Republican billionaire William Oberndorf, who donated $3.7 million to federal candidates in 2020—mostly to Republicans, including Senators Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton.

Chesa Boudin profile picture, wearing a suit and tie

While Boudin is the primary target, this centrist uprising first came to public attention in February when it spearheaded the recall of three school board members (a campaign that was financed heavily by Oberndorf and the billionaire investor Arthur Rock). Next came electoral threats to progressive supervisors who didn’t support the school board recall, revealing a larger political agenda. Then, in late April, corporate interests mounted a gerrymandering effort that could put some supervisor districts in the centrist camp. And now, the furious push to recall Boudin.

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