LA Criminal Court building exterior

Los Angeles Criminal Court building.

With challenger George Gascón maintaining a steady lead since Tuesday's election, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey today conceded defeat.

An emotional Lacey, fighting back tears at times, said that while there are still thousands of votes left to count, she would not be able to overcome the deficit she is facing.

According to updated results released Thursday night, Gascón had 53.7% of the vote to Lacey's 46.2%. In terms of pure numbers, Gascón had a lead of 229,022 votes, a gain of 6,779 from Wednesday's result totals.

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office, there were still an estimated 791,200 votes remaining to be tallied from Tuesday's election, including vote-by-mail ballots, conditional voter registration ballots, provisional and other ballots. The county will also continue to accept vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday and received through Nov. 20.

Lacey, elected in 2012 as the first woman and first Black prosecutor to hold the post, said, "I am so thankful to God for giving me this incredible opportunity to serve the people of Los Angeles County. Do you know it was exactly eight years today, Nov. 6, 2012, that I was elected. I thank my family for the sacrifices they made in order for me to hold this job."

She acknowledged that "in fighting to stay in office, we faced a tsunami of money. We were outspent by an unprecedented $5 million. But that is not the whole story."

She said the massive social-justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and other high profile police-involved deaths led to a "demand to see a tsunami of change."

"These incidents were painful and exposed an issue that existed in this country for years -- racism," Lacey said. "Our nation is going through a reckoning, and what happened in my election may one day be listed as a consequence of them."

Gascón -- a former LAPD assistant chief, chief of police in Mesa, Arizona, and San Francisco D.A. -- positioned himself as a reformer in the race against Lacey. As incumbent, Lacey was plagued by protests from progressives who felt she was not aggressive enough in prosecuting police and sheriff's deputies involved in civilian deaths.

Lacey finished first in the three-candidate field in the March 3 primary with 48.7% of the vote to 28.2% for Gascón. A runoff was needed because no candidate received a majority.

The primary came a day after a group of Black Lives Matter protesters showed up at Lacey's home, and Lacey's husband responded by pointing a gun at the group and ordering them off of the couple's property.

Lacey later apologized on behalf of herself and her husband, but stressed that she has been the target of repeated threats while in office, including death threats, and her husband acted out of fear when the commotion began outside their home at 5:30 a.m.

Many people had voted before the incident.

David Allan Lacey was charged Aug. 3 with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Oct. 2. A pretrial hearing is scheduled in the case for Dec. 11.

The race drew national attention and big money donors from outside of Los Angeles. Of roughly $14 million in campaign funds reported as of late October, Gascón had a slight edge over Lacey, based on a recent surge in contributions, and much of his support came from wealthy donors, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times.

New York billionaire and progressive donor George Soros contributed $1.5 million, while Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his philanthropist wife, Patty Quillin, wrote checks totaling more than $2 million in an effort to elect Gascon, according to The Times.

The majority of Lacey's financial support came from law enforcement groups, including checks of $1 million or more from each of the unions representing sheriff's deputies, Los Angeles police officers and state corrections officers.

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