Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Cooley Moves Toward Run for Attorney General
District Attorney, Sounding Like Candidate, Says He Will Announce Plans Within Two Weeks
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley yesterday inched close to, but just shy of, a formal announcement that he is running for California attorney general.
Sounding very much like someone who has made up his mind to run, he told the MetNews that he has “been strongly encouraged in the last several months” to seek the post “and I am definitely considering it.” He said he wanted to “get through the holidays and the bowl games” and will announce his decision in the next 10 to 12 days.
His decision, he said, “boils down to one thing—who is best suited to be California’s chief law enforcement officer.” While the attorney general heads a department with “several core missions,” he explained, the job “needs an experienced, reliable, seasoned law enforcement type.”
Cooley, 62, was elected district attorney in 2000 and has been re-elected twice since. He joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1973 as a senior law clerk, and became a deputy district attorney in 1974, serving as head deputy in San Fernando and in the Welfare Fraud unit downtown before winning the top job.
He also served seven years as a reserve officer in the Los Angeles Police Department.
The district attorney would join state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, as contestants for the Republican nomination. Democrats seeking the post, which Attorney General Jerry Brown is vacating to run for governor, include former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, and Assembly members Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, Albert Torrico, D-Newark, and Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.
Cooley declined to comment on his potential opponents, and said he would not do so until after the June primary. But a number of pundits, in both parties, have questioned the electability of some in the Democratic field, in particular the perceived frontrunners, Delgadillo and Harris.
Cooley has clashed with Delgadillo in the past, and has described his leadership of the office he formerly headed in distinctly negative terms.
Former District Attorney Robert Philibosian, a longtime friend and advisor of Cooley’s and his former boss, as well as a prominent lawyer/lobbyist considered an astute observer of state politics, said there were “many reasons why I think he’d be elected.”
“Of all of the candidates who I have heard of he has the most experience and the most seniority...and the widest range of experience,” he commented. He added that Cooley has far more statewide name identification than any other candidate and is a proven fundraiser.
He added that while Harman has been endorsed by all or nearly all of the Republicans in the Legislature, and is “well-known, well-respected, and well-liked in Orange County...his base is not anywhere near as large as Cooley’s,” nor does he have Cooley’s hands-on executive and law enforcement experience.
Cooley would be particularly potent in a general election, Philibosian adds, where the Democrats’ registration advantage makes a Republican win dependent on heavy crossover voting.
“He has had a lot of support from Democrats in the district attorney’s races,” Philibosian noted, some from people whose intense personal loyalty “would transcend any party designation” and be translated into “substantial money and endorsements.”
Political consultant Fred Huebscher, who is not working for anybody in the race, agreed with Philibosian’s analysis. He said that Cooley was “highly likely to win in the primary, and there’s not a Democrat running who can beat Steve Cooley in the general election.”
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company