Thursday, November 4, 2010
Kamala Harris Camp Voices Confidence Slim Margin Will Hold in AG Race
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Kamala Harris for Attorney General campaign voiced confidence that the San Francisco district attorney’s razor-thin margin will hold up.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, but with a million or more provisional and vote-by-mail ballots left to be counted statewide, Harris was ahead by 14,838 votes, or .02 percent.
Harris strategist Ace Smith told reporters on a conference call that the candidate was not declaring victory, but believed that the remaining ballots will add to her margin. That belief, Smith said, was predicated on an analysis suggesting that Harris bested Cooley by three percentage points on election day.
The Cooley camp was clearly not conceding
“The race for Attorney General will not be decided for at least another couple of weeks and potentially could go until the official Certification of Vote deadline on December 3,” spokesman Kevin Spillane said in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor the situation. The only thing we are certain of is that the final outcome will be close. We are grateful for all the good wishes of our supporters and will keep you updated.”
Smith said his candidate’s apparent victory was “one of the biggest upsets of conventional wisdom in California political history.”
Published polls had put Cooley several points ahead, combining strength in traditionally Republican areas with significant support in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County, where Cooley is in his third term as district attorney.
The campaign’s internal polls, consultant Sean Clegg said, had shown Cooley with a 5-to-7 point lead until recently, but had tracked a growing movement to his candidate, in particular in the state’s most populous county and among unaffiliated voters.
Early returns showed Cooley, buoyed by early voting, with an eight-point lead when he confidently addressed his supporters at about 11 p.m. Tuesday night. But by Wednesday morning, the race had shifted considerably, as huge blocks of votes from heavily Democratic counties came in, causing Cooley to cancel a scheduled late morning press availability with Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
A Harris victory would give Democrats a sweep of the state constitutional offices.
Cooley did run well ahead of his party. He trailed Harris in Los Angeles County by about 260,000 votes—the rest of the Democratic ticket carried the county by 550,000 or more—but it might not have been enough. While Cooley did well in Republican strongholds such as Orange and San Diego counties, as well as rural areas, Harris trounced her opponent in most counties ringing her home base of San Francisco.
Past history showing that late-arriving and provisional ballots more closely track the election-day results than early votes do is what gives them cause for optimism, the Harris camp said.
Her candidacy was buoyed, they said, by a long period of hard work by the candidate in getting herself known in this part of the state, and lately by a fundraising appearance by President Obama, a focus on her opposition to Proposition 23—the resoundingly defeated initiative to suspend California’s global-warming law, and a surge in support for the Democratic ticket statewide.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, funded by tobacco, insurance and medical companies, and run by GOP heavyweights Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, put more than $1 million into a 30-second ad that accused Harris of being unsupportive of the death penalty and featured a video clip of the mother of slain San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza.
Harris didn’t seek the execution of Espinoza’s killer in 2004, and he is now serving a life term. However, she has maintained she would enforce state law in capital punishment cases if she is elected, and Smith noted yesterday that the death penalty has not been a significant factor in statewide elections since three Supreme Court justices were ousted in 1986.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company