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The adage used to be that all politics is local. Now, in the era of social-media warfare and cable combat, it might be downgraded to not all politics is national.

I always sound this consumer warning before joining the media mob in divining the significance of some local race because the pundits need to draw larger implications to keep people interested. This is especially true of Tuesday’s primary results, which mainly featured low-profile congressional races with candidates who are far from household names.

Chesa Boudin during an appearance on the SF City Insider podcast at the San Francisco Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.
(Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

So is the recall of the San Francisco district attorney part of the California earthquake that has rocked the media?

A New York Times piece on the California results waits until the 15th paragraph to mention this caveat: “Turnout was low on Tuesday across California. And there is always a risk of over-interpreting local races where distinctly local dynamics are often at play.” 

Still, in this case, I believe the tea-leaf readers are right, because a backlash over the crime issue has been brewing for two years.

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The election of Chesa Boudin in San Francisco was hailed as a progressive victory, but just 2-½ years later, he was booted from office by the landslide margin of 60%. Boudin, the son of imprisoned leaders of the violent Weather Underground, had vowed to reduce the prison population, end the racist war on drugs and hold the police accountable.

But home burglaries, car thefts, vandalism and other crimes became a growing problem for one of the nation’s most liberal cities, along with homelessness, and the atmosphere that followed the urban riots after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis began to change. In fact, Boudin acknowledged that he hadn’t reported it when his own car was stolen three years before he was elected.

Rick Caruso, a Democratic candidate for Los Angeles mayor, celebrates at his primary-night gathering in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, with his family behind him. Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire developer Caruso breezed past a large field of rivals looking to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and advanced Tuesday to a runoff election in November. 

Rick Caruso, a Democratic candidate for Los Angeles mayor, celebrates at his primary-night gathering in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, with his family behind him. Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and billionaire developer Caruso breezed past a large field of rivals looking to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and advanced Tuesday to a runoff election in November. 
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

In southern California, Rick Caruso, a billionaire mall developer, finished about 5 points ahead of former Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass, and the two are headed for a runoff. Caruso, a lifelong Republican who registered as a Democrat shortly before the campaign, pledged to add 1,500 officers to the LAPD and was backed by famed police chief Bill Bratton.

We’re a long way from “defund the police,” a politically suicidal movement if there ever was one, and an approach that President Biden explicitly rejected.

The shift is not just some California dreaming. There’s no way Eric Adams, a black former police officer, would have become New York’s mayor if the environment wasn’t conducive to his making crime his top issue. He has struggled in that regard, but no one ever said fighting crime was easy.

Speaking as a native New Yorker, I can tell you that a town may be liberal on national issues but have starkly different views on neighborhood quality of life. The city has mainly elected liberal Democrats, but when former prosecutor Rudy Giuliani came along with a tough-on-crime message, he easily won two terms. His crackdown on “squeegee men,” for example, was welcomed by people who were tired of being hassled in their cars.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., speaks during her election night party Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. Bass and billionaire developer Rick Caruso breezed past a large field of rivals looking to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and advanced Tuesday to a runoff election in November. 

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., speaks during her election night party Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. Bass and billionaire developer Rick Caruso breezed past a large field of rivals looking to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and advanced Tuesday to a runoff election in November. 
(AP Photo/John McCoy)

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Conservative columnists are hailing the realization. “Progressive overreach has its price. Even for progressives,” says Bret Stephens. “What’s going on in San Francisco is happening nationwide, and not just in matters of criminal justice and urban governance. In one area after another, the left is being mugged by reality,” invoking the phrase made famous by Irving Kristol.

In the Atlantic, Frisco native Nellie Bowles writes: “Once, when I was walking and a guy tore my jacket off my back and sprinted away with it, I didn’t even shout for help. I was embarrassed—what was I, a tourist? Living in a failing city does weird things to you.” 

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Bowles says that on everything from housing to schools, left-wing policies have gone awry: “And many San Franciscans have had enough…”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

“Under Boudin, prosecutors in the city could no longer use the fact that someone had been convicted of a crime in the past to ask for a longer sentence, except in ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ Boudin ended cash bail and limited the use of gang enhancements, which allow harsher sentences for gang-related felonies. In most cases he prohibited prosecutors from seeking charges when drugs and guns were found during minor traffic stops.” 

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No wonder the Bay Area grew tired of this sort of insanity. But we won’t know till November whether many other cities and towns, as the media are abruptly concluding, have been mugged by reality.

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