Republican eyes Calif. AG office in 2010

Legal News Line Dec. 5, 2008, 11:18am

Tom Harman (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)--Republican state Sen. Tom Harman has joined a circle of candidates dancing the "dosey doe" around the California Attorney General's office, becoming yet another politician to express interest, but not formally committing to running, in 2010.

Harman filed paperwork to begin a campaign for California attorney general in 2010. But he is quoted in a CalLaw blog saying he's just "taking a look at things."

"It's a long ways away," Harman said Thursday, "and there's a lot of jockeying for positioning going on."

Democrats former state Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris have also made the initial steps to run in 2010, though both have said they won't if California Attorney General Jerry Brown decides to seek reelection.

Harman, as a Republican, would not have to be concerned with party politics, but defeating the popular Brown, who won handily in 2006, may prove a task far to daunting, hence the need for "taking a look at things."

Brown has done nothing to quell the rumors that he intends to run again for governor in 2010, a post he held for two terms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But some political insiders believe Brown won't run if U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein decides to give up her powerful Senate post to return to California and run for governor.

Harman, 67, is the minority whip in the state Senate and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was first elected to the state Senate in 2006. The conservative from Orange County, Calif., was first was elected to the state Assembly in 2000.

Like many of the stalwart conservative bloc of California Republicans, Harman's top priorities include lowering taxes and eliminating government waste according to his biography and Senate campaign Web site.

"Throughout his legislative career, he has signed and honored his pledge to vote against all new taxes," Harman's Senate biography says.

As attorney general, Harman figures to continue his legislative focus on fighting illegal immigration. Harman has authored several measures designed to empower border enforcement, requiring employment verification and limiting state services to undocumented workers.

Harman has not yet returned a message left at his office for comment.

Harman campaigned in the past as a no-nonsense conservative who is tough on crime. Yet CalLaw states he is not as ardent in Sacramento as he is on the campaign trail.

"Harman ... is a political conservative but not a strident one," Cheryl Miller wrote. "He co-authored bipartisan legislation earlier this year aimed at curbing ADA lawsuits. He's authored a lot of tough-on-crime legislation, including an unsuccessful bill earlier this year to speed up death penalty appeals."

Harman and his wife Dianne have been married for more than 40 years.

Canciamilla is a former state legislator who became the informal leader of the so-called Mod Squad, a voting bloc of pro-business moderate Democrats. Harris is widely regarded as an up-and-comer in the Democratic Party. She was among the first to support President-elect Barack Obama, and could count on his powerful support should she run.

Others widely rumored to be interested in the attorney general's office include former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian of Fresno, Eastern District United States Attorney McGregor Scott, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.

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