Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Eastman Clashes With Democrats, Blasts GOP Rivals at AG Debate
Harman, Who Did Not Attend, Unveils Ad Attacking Cooley Judicial Endorsements
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Republican attorney general hopeful John Eastman clashed repeatedly with six Democrats seeking the same job, while criticizing his two GOP opponents for not appearing at a debate to which all were invited.
Eastman, former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, and Assembly members Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, Albert Torrico, D-Newark, and Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, appeared before a select group of attorneys, media members and others at the event sponsored by the legal advocacy group Bet Tzedek Monday night in Culver City.
The seven answered questions posed by Bet Tzedek’s chief executive, Mitchell Kamin, sandwiched in between brief opening and closing statements.
Republican Rivals Criticized
Eastman, in his opening, criticized his rivals, Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, for not being there. He blasted Cooley for passing up the opportunity for a face-to-face encounter in order to debate “the important issue” of whether Leif Erickson or Christopher Columbus discovered America, which the district attorney did at a downtown gathering of the Half-Norwegian (on-the-Mother’s Side) American Bar Association.
Cooley told the MetNews earlier yesterday that with three weeks left in the campaign, the most productive activities a candidate can engage in are fundraising—he claims a large lead over his rivals—and “spending time with friends.”
A Harman spokesperson meanwhile, said the candidate is prepared to debate if both Eastman and Cooley are willing. The candidate spent Monday rolling out his first statewide radio ad, attacking the “liberal district attorney of Los Angeles County” for his efforts to modify the Three-Strikes Law and for joining with “liberal Democrat groups to endorse Democrats running for judge.”
While no such judges are mentioned by name in the ad, the Harman campaign cited as examples Cooley’s support for current judicial hopeful Anthony de los Reyes, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau in his successful effort to retain his office two years ago, and then-Deputy City Attorney Deborah Sanchez in her successful campaign for the court in 2006.
All three are registered Democrats and were endorsed by some Democratic groups, although Dau—an appointee of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson—was the only one of the three to secure an endorsement of the party’s central committee.
Arizona Immigration Law
At Monday’s debate, Eastman declared his support for an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration, and his opposition to AB 590, which would create a right to publicly-funded counsel in some civil cases, while the Democrats all took the opposite positions.
Eastman also criticized the current attorney general, Jerry Brown, for what the candidate said were unnecessary, overly aggressive efforts to enforce AB 32, the state’s climate control legislation, which many Republicans want to put on hold as an anti-recession measure. All of the Democrats declared their support for AB 32 and opposition to any delay in its implementation.
The Republican hopeful further distinguished himself from his opponents by citing the Community Reinvestment Act and borrower fraud as the major causes of the foreclosure crisis, while the Democrats expressed backing for measures aimed at lenders, including a Nava bill mandating mediation before a forced sale could be made of a defaulting borrower’s home.
While the Democrats all expressed support for same-sex marriage, Eastman backed Proposition 8 as the expression of the public will and said he would defend it if elected. He added, however, that as attorney general he would defend a change in the law if the public voted for it.
With few differences between themselves on issues, the Democrats sought to distinguish themselves on the basis of their backgrounds.
Harris touted herself as a prosecutor with a civil rights background, noting that her parents, who met as UC students, gave her the opportunity to grow up around “people who spent a lot of time shouting about this thing we call justice,” and said that she understood “the power of the office to do good.”
Kelly touted his experience in both private business and the Clinton White House, while Lieu stressed his background as both a lawmaker and a military reservist. Nava pointed to his environmental credentials, as a sponsor of legislation and as a former member of the California Coastal Commission.
He noted the immigrant roots of his father, who entered the country without documentation, but eventually became a citizen, casting his first vote for then-gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan. Torrico cited his work on educational issues, saying the state spent more on prisons than on colleges last year, and promised to use the office “to bring about legal changes to the way we educate our children.”
Delgadillo cited his eight years as head of “the eighth largest public law office in the country,” saying he was proud of his record of fighting gangs, protecting the environment, and having prosecutors “walk the beat,” learning of problems in the city’s neighborhoods and helping craft solutions.
The only Democratic candidate not present Monday was Emeryville attorney Michael Schmier, who is making his third bid for the office and is not considered a serious contender.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company