Incumbent George Gascón and Nathan Hochman advanced from the nonpartisan primary for Los Angeles County District Attorney

Incumbent George Gascón and Nathan Hochman advanced from the nonpartisan primary for Los Angeles County District Attorney on March 5, 2024. The general election is on November 5, 2024. As of March 13, 2024, Gascón received 24.4% of the vote and Hochman received 16.4%.

Five candidates led in endorsements and local media attention: Gascón, Hochman, Jeff Chemerinsky, Jonathan Hatami, and Eric Siddall. Although the election was nonpartisan, Gascón, Chemerinsky, Hatami, and Siddall are registered Democrats and Hochman is an independent.

Gascón was elected in 2020 on a platform of not seeking the death penalty, limiting the imposition of cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, and “stopping the practice of imposing excessive sentences”. Gascón said his policies had made county residents safer and he would keep them in place if re-elected: “The reality is that having thoughtful policies that hold people accountable, as we have, sending people to prison when they need to be locked up, but recognizing that prison cannot be the only one answer is what public safety is all about.” Before his election as Los Angeles County District Attorney, Gascón served eight years as San Francisco District Attorney. He earlier served as chief of police in San Francisco and in Mesa, Arizona.

Hochman was, at the time of the election, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Hochman said Gascón had put his policies ahead of public safety and that Hochman would prioritize public safety and victims’ rights over reducing the length of sentences. Hochman said his public and private legal experience would help him change the direction of the district attorney’s office.

Chemerinsky was a former federal prosecutor, serving for nine years in the Central District of California before resigning to run for district attorney. Like Gascón, Chemerinsky said he opposed the death penalty and supported “criminal justice reform, because mass incarceration simply does not work”. Chemerinsky said he would prioritize public safety more than Gascón. Chemerinsky criticized Gascón for Gascón’s opposition to sentencing enhancements—laws that increase the potential sentence allowed for a crime based on specific aggravating factors—in crimes involving firearms. Chemerinsky said his experience would help him make structural changes to the office.

Hatami had been, at the time of the election, a deputy district attorney since 2006. Hatami said he was the first prosecutor to publicly speak out against Gascón after Hatami was ordered to strike information Hatami had included in Hatami’s prosecution of a murder case.[8] Hatami said he was a compassionate prosecutor, supporting rehabilitation rather than punishing criminals, but only when balanced with public safety. Hatami said his background as a survivor of child abuse and the son of an immigrant motivated him to prioritize access to justice for all county residents.

Siddall was, at the time of the election, a deputy district attorney assigned to prosecuting violent crimes. In his former role as vice president of the county prosecutors’ union, Siddall said he successfully sued Gascón over Gascón’s prohibition on sentencing enhancements, allowing prosecutors to again seek higher sentences in crimes with specific aggravating factors. Siddall supported encouraging rehabilitation of criminals and measures to promote public safety. Siddall said he would prioritize hiring 300 new prosecutors to clear the backlog of cases and reduce the crime rate.

According to LAist, the election was “expected to be closely watched across the country as a barometer of how the public is feeling about criminal justice reforms amid an increase in property crime. Property crime is up 17.4% in the city of L.A. so far this year compared to two years ago…Violent crime is down 1.3% year to date from two years ago.”

Local political observers said Gascón’s chances of winning a general election depended on which other candidate advanced alongside him. According to CalMatters, “Gascón’s best chance for survival probably rests on one of his more conservative challengers, Jonathan Hatami or Nathan Hochman, making it to the runoff…If either Siddall or Chemerinsky made the runoff against Gascón, the contender would have ample room to find votes in the center, leaving Gascón with little space to expand his narrow base.”

Also running in the primary were Debra Archuleta, Daniel Kapelovitz, Lloyd Masson, John McKinney, David Sherman Milton, Craig Mitchell, and Maria Ramirez.