After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited protests across the country against police brutality, voters in Los Angeles County chose to take their criminal justice system in a new direction by electing George Gascón as district attorney.

A progressive former police chief who had also served as the top prosecutor in San Francisco, Gascón promised to reduce incarceration in the county, which is the nation’s most populous, and to take a much tougher stance on police accountability than his predecessors had.

His election in 2020 was a major victory for the national movement to elect liberal prosecutors, which has gained steam in recent years, because Los Angeles has the nation’s largest county jail system as well as its biggest office of prosecutors.

Four years later, Gascón is up for re-election, and the race is shaping up to be a much more traditional kind of contest — one animated by crime and what to do about it, rather than by how to reduce racial disparities and reign in the police.

And in a presidential year, the race is sure to be closely watched for signs of the national mood around crime and criminal justice policies.

“I think that this race now for 2024 has gone back to, for a lot of people, law and order, lock ’em up,” Gascón, 69, told me in a recent interview.

Gascón faces 11 opponents, most of whom are running to the right of him and are challenging a number of his policies, including limiting the use of enhancements — for gang affiliations and for the use of firearms during a crime, among other things — that can add years to a sentence; declining in most cases to charge juveniles as adults; and limiting the use of cash bail and misdemeanor prosecutions.

Many candidates have offered voters a narrative of out-of-control crime in Los Angeles, fueled by lenient policies that allow criminals to go free.

Those narratives, however, are contradicted by data that shows a meaningful reduction in violent crime in recent years. In the city of Los Angeles, which accounts for about 40 percent of the county’s population, homicide and rape were both down about 18 percent last year, compared with 2021, Gascón’s first year in office.

Property crime, though, has risen substantially in some categories, including car thefts, burglaries and personal theft.

All of the candidates, including Gascón, are polling at low numbers so far, although Gascón is at the top. One survey, conducted by the union that represents sheriff’s deputies, has him at 14 percent.

The primary is in March, and unless one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote — a remote possibility — the top two contenders in the primary will advance to the general election in November.

Here are the candidates running against Gascón, several of them from within his own office:

  • Maria Ramirez, a veteran prosecutor who has sued Gascón, accusing him of retaliating against her for pushing back on his policies.

  • Nathan Hochman, a former U.S. assistant attorney general who was the Republican nominee for California attorney general in 2022, an election he lost.

  • Craig Mitchell, a former prosecutor turned judge who is known around Los Angeles for the Skid Row Running Club, which he established to help homeless people who were suffering from addiction.

  • David S. Milton, a retired judge who has presented himself as a “law and order” candidate, and has promised to seek tougher sentences and pursue the death penalty.

  • Dan Kapelovitz, a liberal criminal defense lawyer who is running on promises to tackle the root causes of crime, like poverty and addiction.


What are you looking forward to in 2024? Milestone birthdays, traveling to new places, picking up a new hobby?

Tell us your hopes for the new year at CAtoday@nytimes.com. Please include your full name and the city in which you live.


After a challenging period of pandemic closures, followed by Hollywood’s writers’ and actors’ strikes last year, Los Angeles’s moviegoing scene is bouncing back.

In a homage to the city’s silver screens, The Los Angeles Times published a list of the best movie theaters in the county, according to its film writers and editors. The list spotlights 27 locations in Santa Monica, Burbank and beyond, including restored movie palaces, beloved neighborhood theaters and new venues, with recommendations suitable for film buffs, casual viewers and everyone in between.

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