Obama backers boost Harris's bid for AG

Legal News Line Feb. 3, 2009, 12:00pm

Kamala Harris (D)

Jerry Brown (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - San Francisco City Attorney Kamala Harris's close ties to U.S. President Barack Obama have already bolstered her campaign for California attorney general in 2010, observers say.

Harris, who enjoys a tight relationship to the popular president, has reportedly raised big donations from some of Obama's biggest backers.

Within the last month Harris received three donations of the maximum $12,500 and several others in the $5,000 to $6,500 range from California's upper crust, many of whom supported Obama.

Donors include the wife of Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, Warner Bros. television executive producer Chuck Lorrie, and Shakleee Corp. Chief Executive Roger Barnett of San Francisco.

Harris also received the maximum donation from Bay Area residents Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, a political "power couple" who worked as fundraisers for Obama.

Harris stood on the stage in Springfield, Ill., when Obama first announced his candidacy, and traveled to several states to campaign for him. She boosted her exposure by appearing on news talk shows on his behalf during the campaign.

Harris's brother-in-law, Tony West, was a state finance co-chairman for Obama and was later appointed by the Obama administration to an upper-level post in the Justice Department.

In announcing her campaign, Harris said, "I can tell you from the frontlines we need tough new ideas for strengthening our criminal justice system in California. As Attorney General, I will fight for all Californians - from distressed homeowners to families whose neighborhoods are under siege. In the coming months, I will detail new ideas on how we can fight street gangs, go after subprime lenders and others responsible for the financial crisis, and fundamentally reform our prison system."

If she wins, Harris, 44, would be the state's first female attorney general and the state's first black attorney general, not to mention the state's first Indian attorney general. Her father is an Indian American physician and her mother a Jamaican American economist.

She is expected to be opposed by a crowded field that will include California Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and former Bay Area Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla.

All three have said they will wait for Attorney General Jerry Brown to announce he will not seek re-election - his is widely expected to run for governor - before formally announcing their candidacies.

Canciamilla is a moderate Democrat with strong ties to businesses. Lieu said he expects to do well in southern California and with the state's large Chinese population. He has been endorsed by State Controller John Chaing.

One tech Web site said Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly would soon announce his intention to run as well, but no further reports confirming his interest have emerged.

More News