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

November 3, 2010 | 11:24 am
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