Thursday, June 10, 2010
Winners Cooley, Harris Outline General Election Issues
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Law enforcement issues are likely to play a major role in the race to succeed California Attorney General Jerry Brown, spokespersons for the campaigns of Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and San Francisco County District Attorney Kamala Harris indicated yesterday.
A Cooley spokesperson told the MetNews that the Republican candidate would likely focus on Harris’ opposition to the death penalty, her handling of an evidence-tampering scandal at the San Francisco crime lab and her attitudes towards law enforcement.
A Harris spokesperson, meanwhile, accused Cooley of representing the “status quo” and said the Democratic nominee would also focus on Cooley’s record with respect to environmental issues and his opposition to the health care reform bill passed by Congress in March.
Cooley bested former law school dean and constitutional scholar John Eastman, who was supported by tea party activists, and state Sen. Tom Harman, Costa Mesa, in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Harris prevailed over a field of six other Democrats, including Facebook privacy officer Chris Kelly, who sank more than $12 million of his own funds into the campaign.
Statewide, Cooley garnered approximately 47 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, while Eastman followed with about 34 percent and Harman trailed with under 19 percent. Cooley did better in Los Angeles County, where he received over 58 percent of the vote, compared to Eastman’s nearly 28 percent and Harman’s almost 14 percent.
Harris, who is seeking to become the state’s first female, first African-American and first Asian-American attorney general, won with about 33 percent of the total vote on the Democratic side. She was followed by Kelly, with almost 16 percent, and Assembly Majority Leader Albert Torrico, D-Newark, with nearly 15 percent.
The next three top vote-getters—Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, respectively—each received about 10 percent of the vote, while Emeryville attorney Michael Schmier took under 6 percent.
Harris garnered a lesser proportion of the vote in Los Angeles County, taking just under 30 percent, but still led the pack. Delgadillo had the second-highest vote total in the county, receiving just over 20 percent. Kelly followed with over 13 percent, and Torrico and Lieu each garnered over 11 percent. Nava took under 10 percent, and Schmier received under 4 percent.
Spokespersons for both Cooley’s and Harris’ campaigns said the two candidates presented a clear contrast to one another.
Kelly reminded voters during the primary campaign of Harris’ reluctance to seek the death penalty, and Cooley’s spokesperson reiterated that theme, asserting that Cooley’s office leads the state and much of the nation in securing convictions with the death sentence.
Cooley’s spokesperson also contended that his candidate “is a national leader in expanding the use of forensic DNA science” to solve cases, including cold cases, and pointed to the scandal that unfolded when San Francisco Police Department drug lab technician Deborah Madden admitted to taking amounts of cocaine from evidence samples in the police department’s crime lab. The testing unit of the lab was shut down in March, and hundreds of cases have either been dismissed or discharged due to evidentiary requirements since then.
Cooley’s spokesperson also faulted Harris’ attitude towards law enforcement officers. Pointing to Cooley’s pursuit of Armando Garcia, who fled to Mexico before being apprehended for the 2002 killing of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March, the spokesperson distinguished it from Harris’ approach to the 2004 slaying of San Francisco Police Officer Isaac Espinoza.
“She ruled out the death penalty before the body was even in the ground,” he said.
Harris’ spokesperson responded that the candidate would be relying on her track record of “innovation and success” with respect to law enforcement, citing a reduction in recidivism rates and the establishment of national models for innovation.
The spokesperson also pointed to the attorney general’s “other important roles,” noting that Harris was the first candidate in the attorney general’s race to call on all candidates to oppose an effort to repeal A.B. 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. He also said that Harris established San Francisco’s first environmental crime unit, while he accused Cooley of “decimating” the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s unit.
Harris’ spokesperson also claimed that Cooley has indicated he would, if elected, join efforts by other state’s attorneys general to repeal the national health care reform bill passed earlier this year.
“[Cooley] is on the wrong side of many issues of the most importance,” the spokesperson said. “He is siding with the most conservative factions of the national Republican Party.”
The Harris spokesperson also cited Cooley’s opposition to Jessica’s Law and Marsy’s Law, pointing to Cooley’s comment in April at an event at USC in which the district attorney was recorded remarking that all that is necessary to get a law passed in California is to “name it after a female.”
“That is a cynical and offensive line of thinking,” the spokesperson said.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company