SACRAMENTO — Kamala Harris' challenger threw in the towel Wednesday, clearing the path for the San Franciscan to become California's top cop and give Democrats a clean sweep of statewide offices.
Steve Cooley conceded defeat in the slugfest for attorney general by congratulating Harris in a private phone call, after which his aides held a media teleconference to announce that victory no longer was possible.
The concession sparked applause from environmental, labor, gay-rights and other groups that are counting on big things from Harris.
"As California attorney general, she will actually have one of the more important positions in the entire nation in defending environmental laws," said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California.
Since ballots were cast 23 days ago, the attorney general's race had seesawed, with Harris leading by about 54,000 votes Wednesday afternoon with less than 136,000 left to be counted.
Cooley, through his aides, blamed his loss largely on the GOP's poor showing statewide, led by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who lost to Jerry Brown by nearly 13 percentage points.
"It is unfortunate that someone who is a nonpartisan, nonpolitician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a nonpartisan approach," Cooley said in a written statement.
The 63-year-old Republican said he would continue to serve as Los Angeles County district attorney, but he did not say whether he would seek re-election in 2012.
As the spotlight intensified, Harris remained tight-lipped Wednesday, releasing a brief statement vowing to work with Cooley in the future but declining to declare victory until all votes are counted. Nov. 30 is the counting deadline.
Supporters were ecstatic, however, noting that there are key policy differences between Cooley and the 46-year-old Democrat whose Jamaican father is an economics professor at Stanford University and whose late mother was a breast cancer specialist from India.
Read the full story at sacbee.com