Newsom pulls California crime ballot measure a day after touting it as 'critical step'


California Democrats were set to vote Wednesday on an anti-crime measure that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) hoped would combat a Republican-backed one that will be on the ballot in the state this fall, but Democrats reversed course at the last second, halting the effort.

Newsom held up his proposed ballot measure as a “critical step” to address property crime and the fentanyl crisis in an announcement Monday.

But the measure was taken off state legislators’ agenda just a day later, before they were set to vote on its approval for the November ballot on Wednesday.

Newsom had hoped the measure would offer a more moderate alternative to a reform proposal that will be on the Election Day ballot. That proposal aims to repeal parts of Proposition 47, a landmark bill which turned many crimes in the state from felonies to misdemeanors. It’s backed by conservative lawmakers, as well as big-box retailers and prosecutors.

Both moderate and progressive Democrats in the state legislature had been wary of Newsom’s proposal, which some viewed as a hasty response to the Republican effort, the Los Angeles Times reported. State legislature leaders had also previously promised not to make any reforms to Prop 47 at all, instead proposing alternative anti-crime bills.

The measure needed to be passed and signed by midnight Wednesday to be eligible for the ballot. But those concerns, combined with lawmaker absences due to the Fourth of July holiday, put the results of a vote up in the air.

Newsom then decided to travel to Washington to meet with President Biden and other Democratic governors on Wednesday amid concerns within the party following the president’s poor performance in last week’s debate. The California governor has been floated as a top pick to replace Biden, if the president were to end his reelection campaign.

“We are unable to meet the ballot deadline to secure necessary amendments to ensure this measure’s success and we will be withdrawing it from consideration,” Newsom said in a statement about the decision to pull the proposal. “I’d like to thank the Legislature and countless stakeholders who came to the table to work on meaningful reforms and I look forward to our work ahead.”

Newsom blamed the measure’s failure on the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) for not working with the administration. The CDAA has backed the other anti-crime reform measure, and has advocated against Prop 47 for years.

The CDAA celebrated Democrats withdrawing the countermeasure in a statement.

“We are pleased the Governor and Legislature have dropped their countermeasure and welcome them to join our campaign to responsibly amend Prop 47 to deal with retail theft, the fentanyl crisis and homelessness,” CEO Greg Totten said.

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