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VICTOR JOECKS: After California results, expect Sisolak, Democrats to run away from pro-criminal record

Nevada Democrats have spent years imitating their counterparts in California. Now, they have to hope no one noticed.

On Tuesday, elections in California — yes, California — provided a stinging rebuke to leftist ideologues. San Francisco voters overwhelmingly recalled progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin. The prosecutor made headlines for his habit of not prosecuting criminals. He reduced the number of people in prison by more than one-third.

Unsurprisingly, crime exploded. Videos went viral showing thieves brazenly clearing shelves while employees watched helplessly. The Hoover Institution found residents faced a 1-in-16 chance of being the victim of a property or violent crime. Some residents would even leave notes on their cars begging would-be thieves not to smash their windows. Even for San Francisco residents, this was too much.

But it wasn’t just San Francisco. In Los Angeles, billionaire developer Rick Caruso finished first in the mayoral race. Because no candidate reached 50 percent, he’ll face second-place finisher Rep. Karen Bass in November. Bass should have won going away. She’s been a political fixture in California for almost two decades, and once served as Assembly speaker.

Caruso didn’t run as a bleeding heart liberal. He called for hiring 1,500 new police officers, addressing homelessness and cracking down on retail theft. He was once a Republican and didn’t join the Democratic Party until shortly before he announced his run.

These results provide a rebuke to two recent progressive hobby horses: lax punishment for criminals and undermining the police.

Nevada Democrats have to hope voters here don’t remember they’ve spent years enacting laws based on those same principles.

Start with gutting sentencing for criminals. The progressive justification for this is that racial disparities in incarceration rates prove that the justice system is systemically racist. There’s no adjustment for factors such as family background, education levels and income levels. This mindset defines people by skin color while ignoring individual responsibility and personal agency.

In 2019, Nevada Democrats put this worldview into action and reduced sentences for criminals, including repeat offenders. Previously, a criminal with three felony convictions who committed another felony faced a minimum sentence of 10 years before being eligible for parole. Democrats raised that to seven convictions. The bill also reduced sentences on a host of other crimes, including drug trafficking, theft and probation violations.

If only Democrats would realize that prison is a very effective form of gun control — and it doesn’t apply to law-abiding citizens.

Remember this when Gov. Steve Sisolak claims he’s taken steps to protect residents from gun violence.

Then there’s the police. In the summer of 2020 — at the height of the “defund the police” movement — Sisolak called a special session and put police on the menu. He approved a bill placing new restrictions on police officers trying to arrest fleeing or resisting suspects.

These laws have made things worse, but Las Vegas isn’t as bad as California’s big cities. Thank Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson for that. Unlike Boudin, Wolfson isn’t actively on the side of the criminals.

California should be a big warning sign that not enforcing the law is a terrible idea — both practically and politically. If Democrats select Ozzie Fumo as their district attorney nominee and he wins the general election, Las Vegas would be on the path that San Francisco voters just rejected.

Sisolak and legislative Democrats have a pro-criminal record. Expect them to run away from it and hope voters don’t remember their actions.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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