Cops’ endorsements, money flow Torrico’s way

Assembly Majority Leader and Democratic candidate for state Attorney General Alberto Torrico of Newark announced today that the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) voted Saturday to endorse him.

PORAC, a federation of local, state and federal law enforcement associations, claims about 62,000 members statewide. In Torrico’s news release, PORAC President Ron Cottingham said Torrico “has made protecting the public his top priority. He is the best choice for California’s top law enforcement official.” Said Torrico: “I can think of no more important backing than the support of front-line law enforcement personnel.”

I don’t usually spend much time noting endorsements here — and I hear Torrico has hit PORAC chapter meetings around the state in the run-up to this endorsement, so it’s not so surprising — but this one might indicate a trend in the race between Torrico and another Bay Area Democrat who wants to be state Attorney General, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris. In money and endorsements, law enforcement seems to be gravitating more toward Torrico – a labor lawyer turned elected politico – than toward Harris, a career prosecutor.

Torrico reported raising almost $992,000 in the year’s first half – including $610,000 transferred from his other campaign committees – and having more than $910,000 on hand as of June 30; it doesn’t look as if he’s done much big-ticket ($5,000 and up) fundraising since then. Torrico’s money seems to come from a wide array of business, labor and gaming – both Indian and non-Indian – gaming interests, as well as at least $28,000 from at least 10 California law enforcement PACs. Besides PORAC, a few law enforcement organizations are listed on his Web site as endorsements, too.

Harris – tapping into some of the same donors she’d helped wrangle last year for Barack Obama (note the Obama-esque logo at the top of her home page) – reported raising $1.2 million in the year’s first half and having almost $752,000 on hand as of June 30; it looks as if she has banked $142,500 in big-ticket donations since then, including some from Hollywood notables such as Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner. Harris’ contributions seem heavy on well-heeled individuals, as opposed to businesses or unions, but I see no contributions from law enforcement organizations (though I notice her former boss, now-former Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff, anted up $500). I also see no law enforcement organizations among the endorsements listed on her Web site.

Harris has taken heat from law enforcement in her own back yard for her refusal to seek the death penalty in cases including a cop killer in 2004 to – earlier this month – an illegal immigrant gang member accused of killing three.

But Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw didn’t seem worried this afternoon, noting his candidate “is proud to have earned the support of law enforcement leaders across the state, from San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne in the south to the San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennsessey, East Palo Alto Chief Ron Davis, and the San Francisco Officers for Justice POA here in her own backyard. When California voters go to the polls to elect our next Attorney General, they’ll favor a career prosecutor who has spent her entire professional life in a courtroom.”

Do law enforcement endorsements and contributions have much impact on how people vote, even in the race to be California’s “top cop?” Time will tell.

More on how law enforcement is or isn’t backing four other Democrats in the AG’s race, after the jump…

Former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo – who reported $909,518.29 cash on hand as of June 30, including $2,500 from the Los Angeles Police Protective League – doesn’t list endorsements on his Web site.

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance – who reported $725,644.94 cash on hand as of June 30 – seems to lack financial support from law enforcement organizations and seems to have have but one notable law enforcement endorsement, that of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara – who reported $202,351.02 as of June 30, including $6,000 from the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs Association and $1,000 each from PORAC and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen – boasts endorsements from the Ventura and Oxnard police chiefs as well as the president of the National Latino Peace Officers Association Ventura County Chapter.

Chris Kelley, until recently Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer – who reported $56,974.77 cash on hand as of June 30, apparently not including any contributions from law enforcement organizations – boasts the endorsement of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles County.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.