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Conservative Group, Seizing on Crime as an Issue, Seeks Recall of Prosecutors

  • August 03, 2021

The spending upended many of the races, which had previously attracted relatively little funding and attention from major national interests.

Mr. Soros’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

His PAC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars each supporting the campaigns of Ms. Dehghani-Tafti, Mr. Descano and Ms. Biberaj in 2019, when they swept into office promising a new approach to criminal justice.

Their victories came at a time when politicians from both parties were re-examining tough-on-crime policies that enacted harsh sentences for drug crimes and laid the groundwork for the mass incarceration that disproportionately affected Black communities. In late 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the most consequential reduction of sentencing laws in a generation. The next month, Joseph R. Biden Jr., then preparing to run against Mr. Trump, apologized for portions of the anti-crime legislation he championed as a senator in the 1990s.

The skepticism of law enforcement and the criminal justice system was further catalyzed by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, after which calls to “defund” law enforcement echoed from racial justice marches to the halls of Congress. Many Democrats, including President Biden, have rejected the “defund the police” movement.

But, a year and a half after Mr. Floyd’s death, American cities are facing a surge in gun violence and homicides that began during the throes of the pandemic and has continued into this year.

Republicans have sought to pin the blame on Democrats and their allies, and have tried to reclaim the law-and-order mantle that politicians of both parties had embraced in the 1980s and 1990s, but later downplayed amid concern about police misconduct and disparities in the criminal justice system.

Conservatives “have basically sat on the sidelines of this issue,” Mr. Kennedy said. “It has been dominated by one side, and our side had basically unilaterally disarmed.”

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