Torrico files to run for AG, tired but optimistic

Torrico files candidacy papers 3-17-10I went to see Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, as he filed his candidacy papers for the Democratic primary for state Attorney General this morning at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Though the ink is barely dry, he’s been campaigning for the better part of a year.

“Every day you try to climb the mountain,” he said somewhat wearily, noting he’s been to about 30 California counties both to win endorsements and other support for his campaign and to push his AB 656, which would make the state Board of Equalization prepare an annual report on how much money California could raise by imposing (Ed. note – sorry, it was amended a few days ago to actually impose the tax rather than just study it) impose a 12.5 percent severance tax on all oil and natural gas taken from the state’s ground, with revenue to be shared 50 percent to the California State University system, 25 percent to the University of California system and 25 percent to the California Community Colleges system. In fact, he’ll be at a rally for AB 656 at noon tomorrow at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.

Torrico’s AG campaign is rooted in his advocacy for education, from preschools up through college, as a means of reducing California’s crime rates. But the Democratic primary field is crowded – other well-known candidates include San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; former Facebook executive Chris Kelly; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara; and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, as well the relatively unknown Mike Schmier, an Emeryville attorney.

But Torrico remains optimistic. He said his fundraising has been competitive with the other Democrats save Kelly, who put $2 million of his own money into his campaign. “It comes down to who runs the smartest campaign,” he said.

Torrico also has been rolling out labor and law enforcement endorsements on a regular basis. And, he noted, only he, Lieu, Nava and Schmier will have candidate statements in the official ballot pamphlet that’ll be mailed out to voters before June’s election, an important and influential showcase.

Harris, Kelly and Delgadillo chose not to accept the voluntary $5,178,000 campaign spending limit that’s required in order to get a spot in the ballot pamphlet, implying they’re leaving the option open to make massive advertising buys later on.

Torrico said he has been keeping an eye on what’s going on in the Republican primary field, where Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley; state Sen. Tom Harman, D-Huntington Beach; and former Chapman Law School Dean John Eastman are vying for the nomination.

Cooley, a relative moderate generally well-liked in Los Angeles, will be hard to beat in the GOP primary “just on sheer name ID,” he predicted, and in November would be “a real challenge for any Democrat” but perhaps especially for Harris – another big-city DA who doesn’t seem to be attracting as many law-enforcement endorsements.

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.