California Primary Roundup - Harris, Cooley, and Dunn win big

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June 9, 2010

File:Kamala harris photo 2008.jpg
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris

By Joseph Kastner

SACRAMENTO, California: In addition to the large amount of ballot measures, both locally and statewide, the voters of California went to the polls on Tuesday, June 8, 2010 to decide who (on the Republican side) would run for Secretary of State against incumbent Democrat Debra Bowen as well as who (on both sides) would compete to be the next State Attorney General in November.

Although it would not be until March 2010 when Democratic incumbent State Attorney General Jerry Brown officially announced his candidacy in the state's gubernatorial contest, District Attorney of San Francisco Kamala D. Harris wasted no time in launching her campaign for the statewide position in November 2008, a full ten months before Brown had even filed official paperwork with the Secretary of State Office to establish an exploratory committee. [1] [2] In the months that followed, six other Democratic candidates would also enter the state attorney general race, including California State Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico and former-Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Despite predictions from across the state that the nomination of Harris on the Democratic ticket was all but assured, Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly proved to be the most aggressive challenger to her campaign. [3]

And despite both Kelly and Harris being at each other's throats throughout the primary campaign, particularly in the last two weeks before the election, the campaign results on June 8, 2010 showed that the gap between Harris, who ultimately won the Democratic primary contest, and Kelly was nowhere near as close as press coverage seemed to suggest. It appears as though all the negativity Kelly launched against Harris backfired on him as Alberto Torrico, who, in large part, had been lost in the media coverage of the race, came within a percentage point of breaking even with the former Facebook CPO.

2010 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary [4]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Kamala Harris (D) 33.1%
Chris Kelly (D) 15.9%
Alberto Torrico (D) 14.9%
Ted Lieu (D) 10.5%
Rocky Delgadillo (D) 10.1%
Pedro Nava (D) 9.9%
Mike Schmier (D) 5.6%
Total votes 1,676,360

On the Republican side of the state attorney general contest, the field of candidates vying for the party nomination was certainly less crowded, but just as competitive. The primary race pitted moderate Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley against conservative favorite John Eastman, former Chapman Law School dean, and State Senator Tom Harman. Cooley has been severely criticized, particularly from State Senator Harman's attorney general campaign, for being soft on crime as a direct result of his stance against the state's three strikes law. In particular, Harman and other conservative critics saw it would be a conflict of interest if he received the party nomination for state attorney general considering his active collaboration with progressive state political activists, such as San Francisco District Attorney Kamalan Harris - who seemed likely to capture the Democratic nomination in the race - in weakening the three strikes law. However, it was not Harman who received the support of state conservative tea party activists, but rather the other challenger for the Republican nomination, John Eastman. The former dean was able to garner endorsements from such high profile figures as author/radio host Mark Levin in addition to prominent conservative Republican organizations like the California Congress of Republicans and the National Organization for Marriage.

Regardless of his credible efforts to compete with Cooley, who outspent him 3-to-1, Eastman was only able to close the gap on election day by thirteen percent, which, on his website, the law school dean blamed largely on early voting.

2010 Race for Secretary of State - Republican Primary [4]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Steve Cooley (R) 47.3%
John Eastman (R) 34.2%
Tom Harman (R) 18.5%
Total votes 1,555,709

Media attention in the Republican primary contest for California Secretary of State mainly focused on Orly Taitz who is the leading figure in the nation questioning Barack Obama's eligibility as President of the United States and demanding he release his birth certificate to prove he is an official resident of the country. Taitz challenged former football player Damon Dunn for the party nomination. And in spite of the press coverage her campaign brought to the race - for better or worse - Taitz failed to make a significant impact, drawing only twenty-five percent of the votes away from Dunn.

2010 Race for Secretary of State - Republican Primary [5]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Damon Dunn (R) 74.3%
Orly Taitz (R) 25.7%
Total votes 1,447,827

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References