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Cooley concedes AG race but insinuates he was the better candidate

November 24, 2010 | 12:28 pm

Steve Cooley

Carrying over from the calcified rhetoric that defined the 2010 campaigns for Congress, the concession statements offered by electorally thumped "tea party" favorites lacked any sense of graceful losing that more seasoned pols exhibit when they admit defeat. Failed New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who garnered barely more than a third of the vote, brandished a baseball bat when he warned Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo of New Yorkers who want to "take their government back." Delaware's Christine O'Donnell interpreted her nearly 17 percentage-point defeat by Chris Coons as a win and took the opportunity to lay out her victorious opponent's agenda. Nevada's Sharron Angle bizarrely cited millions in out-of-state donations as a sign of her campaign's victory.

Those candidates are easy to pick on, I admit, because they have one thing in common: None of them deserved to make it past the primaries.

The California attorney general's race, which ended Wednesday, wasn't one of those contests. The Times endorsed Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley over his San Francisco counterpart Kamala Harris while noting that both candidates are qualified to hold the office. So it's slightly disappointing to read a concession statement by Cooley that leaves voters with the impression they had elected the inferior candidate. Cooley congratulates himself for receiving endorsements from every law enforcement association and all but one major California newspaper without saying anything positive about Harris. Even worse, he chalks up the election results to "increasingly partisan tendencies of the state," an observation that is probably right but casts Harris' victory as less than completely legitimate. It's a statement for voters and pundits, not a high-profile law enforcement official, to make of their attorney general.     

Below is Cooley's complete statement. And for the record, I cast my vote for the L.A. DA.

While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for Attorney General. Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California's next Attorney General.
 
We started this campaign late but we won an exceptionally tough Republican primary by a decisive margin. In the general election, we emerged as California's top Republican vote getter and carried 39 out of the state's 58 counties. We also cut by more than half the margin of loss by the GOP ticket in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County.  It was gratifying to have received the votes of over 4 million Californians.
 
It is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan non-politician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach. 
 
I take great pride in the fact that I received the endorsement of every law enforcement organization in this race as well as that of every major daily newspaper in California but one. I was particularly gratified to receive the support of so many fellow district attorneys. While my campaign team tells me that endorsements do not necessarily win elections - and the results confirm that -- it still means a great deal to me on a personal level.
 
I thank my supporters and my campaign team for all they did and the sacrifices they made during this past year. We had many old friends -- and made many new ones across the state -- who stepped up to help our campaign. My campaign team did an exceptional job guiding someone who had never previously thought of running for statewide office through two very difficult elections.   
 
I will complete my third term and finish my career as a professional prosecutor in the office where it began over 37 years ago.  I take great satisfaction in being able to still work with the tremendous professionals who do such an outstanding job in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Los Angeles County as District Attorney with the same commitment and enthusiasm I have always demonstrated.
 
The campaign was a fascinating and very positive experience. I advocated for the issues in which I believed in and proposed reforms California needs during these difficult times. I will continue to do the same as District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles.

-- Paul Thornton

RELATED:

Death watch: The gracious concession speech

A wrist-slap for Kamala Harris and Steve Cooley

The worst opinion piece you'll read on California's elections

Times Endorsement: Steve Cooley for state attorney general

Photo: Republican candidate for California attorney general Steve Cooley had declared victory at an election night party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. Credit: AP Photo/David Zentz

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