Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Cooley Will Not Run, Endorses Jacquelyn Lacey as Successor
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Candidates in the race to succeed Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley next year yesterday indicated they were not surprised by his announcement that he will not seek a fourth term and is endorsing his second-in-command as his replacement.
In a letter to friends and supporters dated last Thursday, Cooley praised Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacquelyn Lacey as “the most qualified leader to run the nation’s largest local prosecutorial office.”
Cooley said he has “complete faith in Jackie’s skilled leadership and commitment to the office’s mission,” and is hosting a fundraiser for Lacey on June 9 at the City Club.
Lacey, who did not return a call for comment, was promoted in March from assistant district attorney and has been a part of the office’s management for the past decade.
Larry Levine, who is serving as political consultant to Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers, noted that Cooley’s announcement comes after several months of speculation and was “no surprise.”
Newly declared candidate and Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said he never expected Cooley to seek re-election and that it was “pretty well known he was going to throw his support to Jackie.”
Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo, a former president of the Mexican American Bar Association, similarly remarked that Cooley’s announcement “was expected.”
John Thomas, a strategist for Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson’s campaign, put it more bluntly:
“Everybody saw this coming.”
He suggested that Cooley’s endorsement was “a matter of loyalty and friendship” to Lacey, but questioned “politically, what it gets Jackie at the end of the day.”
Thomas noted that Cooley recently ran a partisan race for attorney general in the last election, so his Republican support base may not back Lacey. Additionally, in this crowded race, Thomas opined, “you’re going to need more than an endorsement to win.”
Trujillo expressed a nearly identical sentiment, remarking that “it would have been great to get [Cooley’s] support,” but the district attorney’s announcement “doesn’t change any of our strategies” for his campaign.
“We are focused on our campaign, not really making comparisons to others,” he explained.
Trujillo noted that he is “getting a lot of support” and is “on track” to meet his fundraising goals for this reporting period—which he declined to state—following an event hosted by the MABA Political Action Committee this Saturday at the organization’s downtown office.
Hamid Towfigh, a spokesperson for Meyers’ campaign, said that the prosecutor has known “she’s not [Cooley’s] handpicked successor,” but since “she is the only candidate who has stated from day one she is running regardless of whether Cooley is going to run,” Meyers is “the only candidate who was really challenging him.”
Towfigh related that Meyers’ campaign is “going really well,” with several fundraisers planned, including one at a private residence next Tuesday which coincides with the candidate’s 25th anniversary as a prosecutor. The event is hosted by former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Gretchen Nelson and Christine Spagnoli of Greene Broillet & Wheeler.
Meyers, a former LACBA president, has also recently secured endorsements from former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Compton Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and Carson Mayor Jim Dear, Towfigh said.
Grace told the MetNews that entering the race next year was something he “had been thinking about for some time.”
He said he felt “I offer both practical experience, and a vision for the office that the other candidates cannot match.”
The prosecutor claims he is the only candidate who has served in the major crimes, family violence, and hardcore gang divisions of the office, and the sole contender who has held elected political office, having served two terms on the Democratic Central Committee representing the 47th Assembly District, which includes Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, and Culver City.
While Grace is not working with a paid consultant, he said he has started fundraising efforts, which are “going good,” and secured the endorsements of former Los Angeles Controller Rick Tuttle, former Los Angeles City Councilmember Rita Walters, and Black Prosecutors Los Angeles President Gilbert Wright.
He has been a deputy district attorney since joining the State Bar in 1988 and active in UCLA-affiliated organizations, his undergraduate alma mater, where he served as student body president before attending Loyola Law School.
Grace is also a vice president of Black Prosecutors of Los Angeles, secretary of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, and a member of LACBA and the Langston Bar Association.
Former ADDA President Steve Ipsen also announced late Sunday night that he is making a second run for district attorney, with a formal campaign kick-off slated for Saturday.
Ipsen launched an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Cooley in 2008.
Besides the six announced candidates, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who won his current office with Cooley’s backing, has begun an exploratory effort. He did not return a phone call seeking comment on the district attorney’s endorsement of Lacey.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company