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Harris Regains Lead Over Cooley In Attorney General's Race

Kevin Douglas Grant |
November 13, 2010 | 1:13 p.m. PST

Executive Editor

Democrat Kamala Harris has retaken a narrow lead, but it's likely to be as fleeting as her last one in this ongoing race.

The seesawing battle has been the closest attorney general's race in California history, and may be one of the most important for other reasons.

With Harris beating Republican Steve Cooley by 5,576 votes in a count that may still takes weeks to decide, news outlets around the country have had time to analyze the importance of this race.

Mother Jones reports: "Should Cooley win, he would immediately become a top-tier GOP candidate for higher office—senator or governor. Harris, who has both Jamaican and Indian ancestors, would be the first California AG of either ethnicity, the first woman elected to the office, and the first Indian American state attorney general in the nation. The outcome will also effect the struggle over Proposition 8, the California ban on gay marriage. Harris has vowed that she will not defend the measure in court."

Further, some watchdogs are hoping the incoming AG will aggressively target corporate malfeasance.  State attorneys general have taken the lead on investigating erroneous foreclosures by lenders like Bank of America and GMAC.  The surrounding scandal has been called Foreclosuregate and Mortgagegate.

The New York Times had already pointed out that the race also has implications for national energy policy:

"[O]il companies have been taking an active interest in the campaign, as well, with Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Valero Energy Corp. and Venoco Inc. all contributing to Cooley. Harris has raised about $4 million to Cooley's $4.6 million, but her donor list is full of Hollywood heavyweights like Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Aaron Sorkin."

Both candidates continue to accept donations, California Watch reports, and settling in for a long process that could involve a recount even after the final result is reported by Dec. 3:

"Since Oct. 31, Cooley’s campaign has reported $116,000 in large donations ($1,000 or more), data from the secretary of state shows.  Harris has cashed checks for $42,650 during the same period."

The LA Times, for its part, published an editorial commending the two candidates for their amicability during the long count.  The closeness of the tally as December comes will determine how friendly the candidates remain.



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