The San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News applaud the victory of Proposition 8 opponent Kamala Harris as California's next attorney general. The Democratic San Francisco District Attorney General's win was certified last week, some three weeks after the Nov. 2 election against Republican Los Angeles County DA Steve Cooley. Harris, who is biracial and a veteran champion of LGBT rights, becomes the state's first female attorney general and the nation's first Black female attorney general.
The Mercury News:
"Cooley ... seemed like a shoo-in for California attorney general. He'd handily won L.A. County elections. But those were nonpartisan races. On the state ballot, Cooley had an R next to his name -- apparently a scarlet letter on several levels in California. The tea party anger and no-to-everything obstructionism of the national GOP, even when it's clearly at the expense of the public good, may or may not be a long-range winner. But here, voters clearly prefer the olden days when parties compromised to make progress."
Harris and Governor-Elect Jerry Brown have promised not to defend Prop 8 in court or appeal the landmark ruling that found the ballot initiative to be unconstitutional. The Chronicle suggests Harris' anti-Prop 8 stance and "expansive vision" of the attorney general's role helped her win.
"Most analysts regarded Cooley as the surest bet on the Republican ticket, even in a Democratic state. He kept to a meat-and-potatoes platform that emphasized the office's crime-and-punishment duties - accentuating his eagerness to inflict the death penalty - and to dial back what he regarded as Attorney General Jerry Brown's aggressive interpretation of his discretion to enforce and ignore laws passed by legislators and voters.
"California voters, however, had other ideas. They chose Harris, the 46-year-old career prosecutor with the more thoughtful and expansive vision of the role of an attorney general. As with Brown, Harris said she would not defend laws she regarded as blatantly unconstitutional (such as Prop. 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage) and would help assure the implementation of the state's landmark climate-change law. Harris pledged to enforce the state's death penalty law despite her personal opposition to it - but she repeatedly and correctly reminded voters that it was not the most pressing criminal-justice issue in the state."
Kamala Harris served Cooley lunch in his own backyard, too. Harris won Los Angeles County by a huge 14 points.
Harris' victory comes less than two weeks before the Ninth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on December 6 in the Prop 8 proponents' appeal of Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling. That hearing will be televised.
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