It's Their Problem Now
The politics of crime won't be easy for Eric Adams or London Breed
As you may have heard, San Francisco voted overwhelmingly to recall their progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin. Boudin was the victim of circumstances that were beyond his control. A DA cannot lower the crime rate, solve the homelessness crisis, end the flow of fentanyl, or make the police arrest more people. Boudin was not a natural politician and could be tone deaf at times, particularly when dealing with an Asian American community riven by hate crimes. His efforts to end cash bail and use diversion programs were well-intentioned, if not what voters pined for any longer. The electorate was restive and Boudin paid the price. His replacement will probably talk much more, directly or indirectly, about law-and-order.
There were Democrats who opposed the recall in San Francisco, but London Breed was not one of them. Elected to a full term in 2018, Breed is very much the sort of center-left, tech and real estate-aligned politician who actually ends up governing San Francisco. A true liberal hasn’t operated out of City Hall since Art Agnos lost his re-election bid in the early 1990s. After Kamala Harris, a Bay Area native, dropped out of the presidential race, Breed supported Michael Bloomberg. Ron Conway, the billionaire angel investor, is one of her prominent backers.
Breed will pick Boudin’s replacement. She will be able to consolidate her power further as she contemplates her next move. As mayor of San Francisco, that’s only logical. Her predecessors include Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein. Harris was once the city’s district attorney. With Boudin, someone she clashed with ideologically, wiped away, the path should be clearer.
Whether Breed realizes it or not, the city of San Francisco is entirely her problem now—just as New York, six months in, belongs to Eric Adams. The two mayors are similar in various ways—they are both Black and campaigned with the support of their city’s elite industries—and each have vowed, over the last year, to tame crime and disorder. Breed declared a state of emergency over San Francisco’s homelessness-ridden “nasty streets.” In his mayoral campaign last year and in his tenure so far, Adams has repeatedly portrayed New York as a chaotic, crime-infested city that people should fear. “On day one, I took the subway system, I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere. People were yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder,” Adams said this year.
“I have never in my professional career, I have never witnessed crime at this level,” Adams told Fox News as recently as May.