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Attorney general race still too close to call

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 at 1:40 pm in 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris, Steve Cooley.

Among statewide races, only that for attorney general remained too close to call Wednesday.

Republican Steve Cooley had declared victory late Tuesday night, but Democrat Kamala Harris surged in later returns and Cooley cancelled his Wednesday-morning news conference. By early this afternoon, Harris – who had been trailing in the polls but was seen closing the gap in the weeks leading up to Election Day – led Cooley by about 14,800 votes, or 0.2 percent of those cast.

In Cooley’s home county of Los Angeles, Harris led by about 259,000 votes, or 14.5 percent of those cast, a sign that her campaign blitzes there – including a tour of several African-American churches this past Sunday morning – might’ve helped turn the tide.

Harris campaign manager Ace Smith issued this memo a short while ago:

In spite of Steve Cooley’s Dewey-esque declaration of victory at 11:00 pm Tuesday night – which was followed six hours later by a cancellation of a Wednesday morning “victory” press conference – San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris will be the next Attorney General of the State of California. Here is why:
• With 100% of precincts reporting, Kamala Harris has won the Election Day count by 14,838 votes, 45.9% to 45.7%.
• Uncounted ballots will only bolster Kamala Harris’s lead, as they will reflect Harris’s strong Election Day advantage.
• Considering that Cooley jumped out to a 50% to 42% lead on Tuesday night thanks to early absentee ballots – and considering where the vote total ended up – our model shows that Kamala Harris clearly won the vote on Election Day by 3%. The provisional ballots cast on Tuesday will reflect Harris’s victory.
• The late absentee ballots will reflect Harris’s late surge in the race – which was captured both in public and private polling.

We will be providing updates on a regular basis in the coming days.

UPDATE @ 4 P.M.: “We are I think witnessing history, one of the most interesting upsets of conventional political wisdom in recent California history,” Smith said on a conference call with reporters just now. “We have every confidence that we are going to win this race.”

Smith said Los Angeles alone had 166,000 provisional ballots, 111,000 mail-in ballots that were physically dropped off at polling places Tuesday and 120,000 mail-in ballots that arrived in the mail just before the deadline. If the voting pattern Los Angelinos set at the polls Tuesday holds true for these additional, as-yet-uncounted ballots too, Harris will finish with a 60,000-vote margin, he said – a margin he attributes to “good old-fashioned hard work by the candidate,” although President Obama’s direct support definitely had a “positive effect” too.

“We’re not declaring victory, we’re not going to make the same mistake Steve Cooley did. We’re declaring our confidence,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Cooley’s campaign issued this memo at about 3:30 p.m.:

“With the counties completing their semi-official returns, Steve Cooley trails Kamala Harris by 14,838 votes – two-tenths of a percentage point. There are over 1 million provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted.”

“The race for Attorney General will not be decided for at least another couple of weeks and potentially could go until the official Certification of Vote deadline on December 3.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation. The only thing we are certain of is that the final outcome will be close. We are grateful for all the good wishes of our supporters and will keep you updated.”

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  • http://camillekoue.blogspot.com Camille Koue

    This race worries me! I didn’t want to vote for either candidate, I wanted to vote for Peter Allen, the Green party candidate. I agreed with his viewpoints on every major issue, especially ending the death penalty. And in the end it is the death penalty issue that made me vote for Harris. With the race so close and Cooley so pro death penalty, I knew I had no choice.

  • John W

    Cooley saying he would likely join other GOP AG’s in challenging the health care legislation made me switch to Harris.

  • Pingback: Slightly wider lead for Harris in AG race | Political Blotter