In LA, George Gascón takes the lead in District Attorney race, and Prop 22 passes

Angelenos wait in line to vote at Ruben Salazar Park as the sun sets on November 3, 2020. Photo by KCRW/Samantha Helou.

Much like the national election picture, California and local races offer a mixed bag.

In the hotly contested District Attorney (DA) race in LA, George Gascón takes the lead over incumbent Jackie Lacey (as of noon today).

“In the last few months, because of the movement on criminal justice reform, I think she [Lacey] had become the underdog, even as the incumbent. And she was fighting a real uphill battle for a more traditional law enforcement view in a climate, especially in LA County that had gone completely in the opposite direction,” says Raphe Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA. “So I think he’s [Gascón] been the favorite for weeks, even as a challenger.”

Sonenshein says LA is the crown jewel of DA offices in the country, and in Philadelphia and other cities, a host of people are coming in as progressive prosecutors.

Sonenshein predicts that a Gascón victory in LA would affect how people are charged, decisions on whether they are sometimes overcharged or undercharged, whether police officers will be prosecuted for misconduct, and how close the DA will be to law enforcement and its unions.

Also, California voters passed Proposition 22, the most expensive ballot initiative in the state’s history. This means rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft will not have to label their drivers as employees.

“Uber, Lyft and DoorDash had earmarked upwards of $200 million on the sort of marketing blitz, essentially positioning Prop 22 as a way to support drivers, when in fact, it’s basically really supportive of Uber’s existing business model where you keep them as contractors,” says Mike Isaac, New York Times tech reporter and author of the book “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.”

When it comes to drivers themselves, sentiments are mixed, says Isaac. “There are a number of drivers who do believe that being considered full-time employees is the right thing, for the amount of time they spend driving on the app. It’s a smaller but strong continuum of people. And then what Uber likes to say a lot … is the vast majority of people driving … are very part-time, just sort of do it on their off time, and this would be unfair for them if they had to reclassify.”

— Written by Amy Ta, produced by Rosalie Atkinson and Nihar Patel

Credits

Guests:
Raphe Sonenshein - Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA, Mike Isaac - New York Times tech reporter, author of the book “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” - @MikeIsaac, Jessica Levinson - Professor, LMU's Loyola Law School in Los Angeles - @LevinsonJessica

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin