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Did pension comments hurt Steve Cooley in L.A.?

VoicesThree times, Los Angeles County residents have elected Steve Cooley as district attorney -- twice by significant margins -- but on Tuesday, local voters rejected his bid for state attorney general.

With 100% of precincts at least partially reporting, Cooley was losing to San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris by 31,000 votes -– less than half a percent. But in Los Angeles County, where Cooley has enjoyed a decade of broad support, he was soundly defeated by 14.5% -- or 258,685 votes.

Late Tuesday night, still showing a slim lead, Cooley announced a press availability for Wednesday morning with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, two of his allies. A few hours later, his campaign canceled the event with a brief note, citing "the uncertain nature of the final result of the California Attorney General's race."

In recent months, Cooley has made headlines by filing corruption charges against eight Bell city officials. He also sought to have director Roman Polanski extradited in connection with his unlawful sex with a minor case.

Harris, his Democratic challenger, had blanketed the airwaves with a commercial that used a clip from a recent debate. Times reporter Jack Leonard asked Cooley if he planned to "double dip" by taking his pension from his tenure as district attorney -– and his $150,000 annual salary as attorney general. Cooley's quick response: "Yes, I do. I earned it. I definitely earned whatever pension rights I have and I will certainly rely upon that to supplement the very low, incredibly low, salary that's paid to the state attorney general."

Over that answer, Harris' campaign displayed the text: "$150,000 a year isn't enough?"

Did that ad play a role in your vote for attorney general? Tell us your thoughts below.

-- Kimi Yoshino


Comments () | Archives (120)

Kamala Harris could only do so well in a region far from San Francisco where her incompetence is not well known.

At least we get to send her to Sacramento.....

I$150,000 is an incredibly low salary? Not in my neighborhood.

No I voted for Harris and made about 7 other people vote for her because of the corporate spending on Cooley's behalf. If they are so afraid of Harris then she must be good for the rest of us. Otherwise I me and my family and friends don't really care about Attorney generals.

I voted against him because of his stance on medical marijuana, as so did many others i believe in L.A.

The ad did not influence me in any way. Actually, I never saw it. I did however research the candidates on-line and in the end I determined that Kamala Harris was the best qualified candidate for the position. That is why she earned my vote. I tend to ignore the commercials.

His comments probably did not effect my vote because I would have voted democrat anyway, but I previously had much more respect for him and the ad diminished my view of him as a public servant.

YES it did. We are sick of these pension payouts in the 6 figures. They need to put caps on them and you should not be allowed to draw them until you are really retired - not just moving from one state job to another.

Simply put..Yes it did. 150k a year salary in California and you want MORE??? He is out of touch with the current state of Californians.

Of course this comment hurt him, as did his ten years of corruption, lying, and power politics in Los Angeles. This man is out for himself and no one else matters to him.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department is one of the most corrupt and despicable institutions in the state. I am weary of anyone closely linked to and supported by the department.

I would like an Attorney General who is both tough on crime and law enforcement, but also tough about addressing corruption and abuse WITHIN the "law enforcement" community. Both candidates leave much to be desired.

Perhaps it had something to do with Cooley's blatant disregard for the law in regards to medical marijuana?

Cooley showed himself to be nothing more than a cowboy looking to make a name for himself, regardless of the cost.

How could this joker be any good for California?

It had nothing to do with his pension comments. The media are always trying to get everybody to resent anybody who has a pension. Wall St wants to get its grubby paws on everybody's pension.

Cooley lost LA because he had an (R) after his name. I am a Democrat from LA, but I voted for him, and I hope he wins.

In these times, when millions have no jobs, to be drawing multiple incomes seems morally reprehensible especially for a person who holds public office and is paid from public money. I don't think anybody would complain if it was a business person who is invested in the economy. On the other hand, considering the high cost of living in California, $150K does not seem like a huge amount of money.

I voted against him for his involvement in the raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries. He doesn't respect the will of the people. That type of person doesn't belong in government, even if his opposition is incompetent as some claim.

Steve Cooley has vowed to fight the repeal of Prop 8. Kamala Harris has promised to allow Prop 8 to die, as it rightfully should. The gay community and our allies are supporting Kamala Harris in large numbers, in part because of this fact.

I didn't see the ad. I voted for Kamala because of her opinion in regards to proposition 8.

It wasn't just his answer, but the way he answered it. He appeared dismissive and antagonistic. As a Trial Attorney, Cooley should have been much more savvy. His answer should have been simply that he worked for decades as a D.A. and earned his pension as well as the fact that he is not in this race for the A.G.'s salary, but to apply his expertise to that office. If there was a follow -up to that question such as , "Would you forego the A.G.'s salary"? His answer could have been, "If Ms. Harris agrees to do so, so will I".
Cooley demeanor and answer showed that he is not ready for statewide office.

I am pleased that Cooley has apparently lost his bid for the State Attorney General's office. I couldn't think of a better piece of news to be given today, next to the obvious Brown/Boxer wins. Cooley is an arrogant self serving man who desires nothing more than furthering his corrupt career. We know wholeheartedly that his attempt to extradite Polanski was planned to enhance his political objectives. It is my sincere wish that he becomes irrelevant and retires. Los Angeles deserves so much better than this tool.

I had already planned to vote against Cooley long before the pension ad hit airwaves. He is a thug and wanted to hurt California by closing down safe access to medical marijuana. What kind of attorney general wants to steal rent from landlords, lose jobs in a tough economy and put cannabis back in the hands of gangbangers? Idiot - fingers crossed he loses.

I want elected officials who understand that they are working for all of us, not making strides in their big careers. He thinks $150,000 is "incredibly low?" I know plenty of people who would be ecstatic over $150,000. It would change their lives. I want to be represented by people who know that, not by snobs who are lowering themselves to hold public office. Why does he want the job? To help his rich friends with favors?

$150,000 is incredibly low compared to what local city attorneys are making at $250,000. 23% of sworn police officers in Manhattan Beach make $150,000 or more. The human resource director ($191K) for Torrance makes 2.5x what my private sector corporation's HR Director pulls in a year.

All of them are overpaid. These associations/unions campaigned and spent millions to ensure Meg Witman didn't win as she was set to try and tackle public wages.

Nothing will change until cities start going bankrupt in the years coming or we will need to raise our state sales tax to 13.75% to compensate for the current salary/pension obligations.

We got Brown as our Governor. He won't touch the subject.

I voted against him because he didn't prosecute Randy Adams, former corrupt Bell Police Chief and HIS personal friend. Otherwise I would have voted for him, but he showed his true colors with this action. In fact, he should be removed from office on this action alone.


I voted for Harris because I wanted another State Attorney General that would not defend bigoted and unconstitutional ballot proposition like Proposition 8 in court.

If Cooley loses, it is because the sheep who vote here in California didn't see a (D) next to his name

I voted for Kamala Harris as an inspiring person, a more positive person than the opportunist Cooley who likes to use his office to file charges against college athletes, which are usually later dismissed, all for political expedience. Kamala Haris seems to get the Big picture in California; Steve Cooley became petty and small-time.

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