Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Cooley Enters A.G. Race, Law School Dean May Follow
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said yesterday he is committed to seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general.
Cooley told the MetNews yesterday afternoon that he had taken the preliminary steps of naming a campaign treasurer and filing documents with the Fair Political Practices Commission, thus allowing him to collect campaign donations.
Cooley joins state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Garden Grove, in the race for the GOP nomination. In addition, conservative legal scholar John Eastman said yesterday he was giving “very careful consideration” to the race and would likely file FPPC paperwork within days in order to begin accepting donations that have already been pledged by supporters.
While a press release issued by Cooley yesterday morning said he was forming an “exploratory committee,” the district attorney said in an interview later in the day that he was “100 percent” committed to running.
‘Brief’ Exploration Phase
“The exploration phase was very brief,” he quipped. He did note, however, that no one is actually locked into a candidacy until he or she pays the $3,000 filing fee and files nominating documents with election officials, which this year must be done between Feb.16 and March 12.
The effort is at this point is largely volunteer-driven, Cooley said, as no professional staff has been selected beyond the campaign treasurer, Los Angeles certified public accountant Bill Turner. Former District Attorney Robert Philibosian, as expected, is serving as an adviser, with no formal title at this point, while John Thomas, who handled media relations for Carmen Trutanich’s successful campaign for Los Angeles city attorney last year, is a volunteer spokesman for the campaign, Cooley said.
Cooley said he was unconcerned as to whether Eastman or another candidate enters the race. “It’s all about democracy,” he said.
Eastman, a Long Beach resident and the dean of Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, acknowledged that it would be unusual for a first-time candidate to enter a race at this late stage against candidates with existing political and fundraising bases, like Harman and Cooley. But “the caliber and stature of the people who are urging me to do this” is compelling him to take a serous look at jumping in, he explained, although he said he would not name those backers prior to making a final decision to run.
He outlined a conservative agenda, accusing incumbent Jerry Brown, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, of failing to give “a vigorous defense” to voter-approved Proposition 8, and saying the attorney general has a role to play in solving “the huge fiscal mess” that the state is in.
The next attorney general, he added, may be in a position to challenge “the more egregiously unconstitutional provisions of health care legislation as it’s currently written.”
He described Harman and Cooley as “wonderful” and commented that “in normal years, the district attorney from the largest county in the state would be the obvious choice” to be the state’s chief legal officer, which is generally viewed as a law enforcement position.
The voters “will have to decide if this is a normal year,” Eastman said, because his “strong suit” is the “constitutional,” rather than prosecutorial, role of the office.
While he is not entering the race with a war chest, he said—he made clear that he is not related to the founder of Eastman Kodak—he said a great deal of money had been pledged since he made it known over the weekend that he was looking at running.
Tim Rosales, a spokesman for the Harman campaign, said his candidate was looking forward to debating Cooley on their contrasting views of issues that resonate with Republican primary voters, in particular the Three Strikes Law and abortion rights.
Harman is “decidedly more conservative” than Cooley, and a better fit with the primary electorate—which is limited to registered Republicans—the spokesman said.
Harman wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, which Cooley supports, Rosales said, and supports the Three-Strikes Law as currently written. Cooley has said he supports “a moderate change” in the law, consistent with his own office policy, limiting the imposition of life sentences to cases in which the third “strike” is a serious or violent felony or a major drug crime, or there are other aggravating circumstances.
Rosales said he didn’t “know much about Mr. Eastman’s record” and could not comment on the potential impact of having another candidate running to Cooley’s right.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company