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Projection For California Attorney General

Audio

Aired 6/9/10

The California Attorney General match-up is all set for November. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

DWANE BROWN (Host): The California attorney general match-up is all set for November. We’re joined on Morning Edition by non-partisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has won the Democratic primary Leo. How did she beat Facebook executive Chris Kelly.

LEO MCELROY (Political consultant): Well, going in the job title looked pretty good for her. If you are the district attorney of a large California city, that’s not a bad way to lead yourself into the attorney general’s race. But she came under attack for the scandals involving the drug lab and district attorney policies regarding revealing information to defendant’s lawyers. That opened the door for Chris Kelly, who has a lot of money, to attack her. Nonetheless, it didn’t work. She won pretty easily. Form held here. The DA in LA won on the other side. So it’s the two big city DAs fighting it out for attorney general in November.

BROWN: How do you see this fight playing out?

MCELROY: Well, it’s going to be interesting. Kamala Harris is still going to come under fire for the irregularities that have been pointed out in the district attorney’s office in San Francisco. Steve Cooley on the other hand, was under fire, mainly from the right, mainly for his position on “three strikes.” He doesn’t like doing “three strikes” prosecutions, unless the third strike is a major crime. It was the conservatives who were attacking Steve Cooley. That probably will not be an attack on him in the general because his position is much more like Kamala Harris’ in that regard. So it’s going to be a fight over who did what and whose record is what and quite possibly a battle of personalities to some extent.

PAMELA DAVIS (Host): Now one of the most contentious statewide ballot measures has failed, Proposition 16, which required two-thirds voter approval to create or expand local public electricity service. Are you surprised the measure lost 52 to 48?

MCELROY: I am surprised. And I’m surprised mainly because the electorate was so thin that it was possible that a narrower electorate was going to pass this measure. It lost closely, as did the other special measure 17. Two private industry groups going out promoting their own measure to build their own business and both of them got handed their heads by the electorate. But it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t a slam-dunk on either side.

BROWN: Well, voters fed up with partisan politics in Sacramento scrapped the multi-party primary system Leo. How will Proposition 14 transform our state’s elections?

MCELROY: Well, I think it’s going to make a big change. I think this is the measure that more than anything else really handed a rebuke to politics as usual in California. Fourteen was opposed by all of the political parties. They all weighed in against 14. And it didn’t matter. The voters said no, we want a change. We want the partisanship to back off. We want the right to vote. If we are paying for the election we should have the right to vote for anybody we chose to vote for. So we’re going ahead with a second try at an open primary system. The last one got thrown out by the courts. This one has survived court challenges in Washington and may mean a more moderate legislature coming in down the line.

DAVIS: Leo, quickly if you can, can you tell us about the close insurance commissioner race?

MCELROY: Yes, this one is an interesting political payback. Political revenge is the gift that keeps on giving. Mike Villines was the Republican leader in the Assembly who got kicked out because he provided one of the votes to pass the budget the last time around and so the Republicans booted him out of the leadership post. Now he runs for insurance commissioner. Looks like he’s pretty much a slam-dunk to win it. According to the numbers, he’s losing that race too. I think revenge has many faces.

DAVIS: Sacramento Political Consultant Leo McElroy, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MCELROY: You bet.

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