San Francisco is still two months out from deciding whether to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and candidates are already lining up to replace him.
If the recall against Boudin is successful, one of his challengers in the 2019 district attorney's race, Nancy Tung, said she plans to take another shot at winning the seat. Tung, an Alameda County prosecutor and member of San Francisco’s Democratic Party, announced her intention to run over the weekend at a local NAACP meeting.
Reached by phone Thursday, Tung said she wanted to run to make Asian American crime victims feel more supported by the District Attorney’s Office. “People in the AAPI community have encouraged me to run,” she said. “I have felt a lot of support from that community.”
Her announcement comes after recall supporters released a poll suggesting that the district attorney is in trouble. The poll, conducted by the Oakland-based research firm EMC Research in February, found that 68% of respondents would support recalling Boudin and a majority of respondents disliked him.
While Tung supports the recall, key members of the local NAACP do not.
In response to her announcement, Rev. Arnold Townsend blamed the recall on the media causing “hysteria” over crime by selectively broadcasting videos of Black suspects attacking Asian victims. He suggested that the trend could lead to Black men being overcharged.
“If this DA is recalled, it’s going to be open season on young Black men in this city,” Townsend said.
NAACP President Rev. Amos Brown struck a similar tone and called for unity.
“We have a job to do in this town,” Brown said. “There are forces who have capitalized on isolated instances of bad, brutal, illegal acts against Asians.”
Tung finished third in the hotly contested 2019 race against Boudin, former Police Commission president Suzy Loftus and Leif Dautch, a then-state deputy attorney general. Tung was widely viewed as being the most tough-on-crime candidate in the contest.
All four were running for an open seat left behind by former District Attorney George Gascón. Loftus, a frontrunner in the 2019 race along with Boudin, has endorsed the recall but not said whether she plans to run again. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the middle of the 2019 race, Mayor London Breed appointed Loftus to finish Gascón’s term when he abruptly resigned to run for Los Angeles County district attorney. He is also now facing a recall in that county.
After the 2019 race, Breed tried to appoint Tung to the Police Commission, but the Board of Supervisors rejected her nomination, with progressive supervisors saying they wanted the mayor to choose someone who could aggressively drive police reform in the city.
Tung is just one potential candidate who could run to replace Boudin. Joe Alioto Veronese, a former police commissioner and grandson of the late Mayor Joe Alioto, filed paperwork at City Hall in January declaring his intention to run in November 2023. If Boudin is not recalled in June, he would be up for re-election next year.
Mayor Breed will get to choose an acting replacement for Boudin if the recall is successful. Her appointee would likely have to run for office this November to retain the seat through the end of Boudin’s term, which ends in January 2024. However, Supervisor Aaron Peskin has a proposed charter amendment on the June ballot that could complicate the situation.
If voters approve Peskin’s proposal and Boudin is recalled, Breed’s appointee would not be allowed to run in the November 2022 race, essentially making the appointee a caretaker district attorney.
Breed has not indicated who she might choose to fill the seat.
Boudin’s anti-recall campaign spokesperson, Julie Edwards, said the district attorney was honored to have NAACP leaders’ support.
“Voters elected Chesa Boudin in 2019 in part to bring much-need reforms to that system,” Edwards said. “If someone wants to run in 2023, they should put their name on the ballot and let voters examine their record. That's how the process is supposed to work.”