Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


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Cooley, Harris Lead in Attorney General Primary Races—Poll




A new poll shows Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and San Francisco top prosecutor Kamala Harris leading their respective parties’ primaries for California attorney general.

The poll by New Jersey-based SurveyUSA, taken for four California television stations, shows Cooley with 29 percent of the vote in the Republican race to 28 percent for Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, and 14 percent for conservative scholar John Eastman, so the race is well within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. With 28 percent of the electorate undecided, “any outcome is possible,” the pollster commented.

On the Democratic side, Harris was in first with 25 percent of the vote, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly was second with 17 percent, and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo had 13 percent. Four candidates were in single digits—Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, with 8 percent, Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, with 7 percent, Assemblyman Albert Torrico, D-Newark, with 5 percent, and Emeryville attorney Michael Schmier with 3 percent.

Twenty-two percent of respondents were undecided. The margin of error was 3.7 percent, the pollster said.

More than 600 “likely and actual” Republican primary voters and more than 700 Democrats were polled between Friday and Sunday, the pollster said.

Marked Improvement

Cooley had the most marked improvement of any candidate since SurveyUSA last polled the race, which was two weeks ago. He has since gained 7 points, while Harman and Eastman are about where they were in the previous poll.

Cooley’s campaign consultant, Kevin Spillane, said his candidate would have polled even better if the pollster had identified candidates by name and ballot designation, rather than by name alone. But he agreed that the other candidates have “stalled,” a conclusion he says is borne out by private polling he has seen.

The challenge for his candidate in the two weeks remaining before the June 8 primary, he said, is to improve his standing outside Southern California. The poll showed him trailing Harman by six points in Central California, by seven in the Inland Empire, and by six in the Bay Area, while leading by 14 in greater Los Angeles.

“The trend has been positive,” Spillane added.

Other Candidates’ Reactions

Harman spokesman Tim Rosales said the poll is further proof that the contest is really between his candidate and Cooley. A key part of Harman’s strategy has been trying to convince voters that he is the only viable conservative in the race, portraying Cooley—a self-described moderate—as too far to the left to carry the Republican standard and Eastman as someone who can’t win the primary.

The race remains volatile, Rosales said, and voters “are just getting familiar with” the candidates.

Eastman spokesman Jeff Flint agreed with Spillane that the lack of ballot designations makes the result questionable, but predicted that his candidate’s moniker of “Constitutional Law Attorney” will prove particularly potent this year.

“I think it’s a better ballot designation than district attorney,” he told the MetNews, in a year when “people are just fed up with the size of government.” Eastman has aimed his campaign squarely at the burgeoning “Tea Party” movement, speaking at its rallies and meetings and appearing on conservative talk radio.

On the Democratic side, Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw and Kelly spokeswoman Robin Swanson said the poll was likely an accurate reflection of the current state of the race.

‘Limited Utility’

Kam Kuwata, who speaks for Delgadillo, said polls at this point have limited utility because television advertising for most of the candidates is just beginning. The exception is Kelly, whose self-funded campaign has about four times as much money available as any other candidate and who has been on the air for about 10 days.

“The campaign really begins this week,” Kuwata said. He predicted that Harris’ lead would disappear amid doubts about her stewardship of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, which has been accused of failing to provide defense attorneys with exculpatory evidence regarding police misconduct, in violation of defendants’ rights under Brady v. Maryland.

Brokaw, however, said voters were “seeing right through” that criticism, already a staple of Kelly’s ads.


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