Republicans missing from California AG campaign

Legal News Line Mar. 31, 2009, 3:31pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) -- It's early. Way early.
You'll hear that a lot over the next few months, because the election for California's top offices isn't until 2010 and the election from 2008 is still in our memory.

U.S. President Barack Obama is still in his First 100 Days. Voters aren't paying attention yet, California Attorney General Jerry Brown told the media a couple of weeks ago.

One problem: It's not that early at all, especially for Republicans who have completely sat on the sidelines in the run-up to the race for attorney general in 2010.

A crowd of eager Democrats are jostling around waiting for Brown to make official his intention to run for governor in 2010. They're raising money, plenty of it, and preparing for a high-profile primary that will attract a lot of news.
Republicans? Quiet as a church mouse.

"With current Attorney General Jerry Brown running for governor," Dave Gillard, a conservative political consultant, wrote on Tuesday, "at least four Democratic hopefuls are preparing campaigns. None of the four is a top-tier candidate, and all are vulnerable to a strong, well-funded Republican challenger."

Scott Gerber, director of communications for the attorney general, reminded Legal Newsline last week that Brown has not announced whether he'll run for governor or seek re-election. Though he's widely expected to run, as Gillard's declarative statement indicates, his last public comment on the subject said he didn't expect to make up his mind for several more months.

Brown's fate notwithstanding, Gillard believes the focus on who will replace termed-out Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has left the highly winnable race for attorney general neglected among the GOP. Though defeating Brown would be virtually impossible, Gillard is optimistic that Brown will move on, and the race can be recaptured by Republicans.

"Three of the last six attorneys general of California have been Republicans," Gillard wrote on the conservative Web site, The Flash Report. "This is an office we can win."

Gillard pokes holes in the Democratic candidates - he fails to name several who are expected to run - particularly taking aim at San Francisco City Attorney Kamala Harris.
"While she may be popular in San Francisco, her ultra-liberal positions will betray her in a moderate turnout statewide election," Gillard wrote.

Gillard said Harris would be a "dream opponent" for Republicans, despite her strong connection to Obama, her inter-racial heritage and her appeal as a female candidate.

Gillard dismisses "two obscure members of the Assembly," Ted Lieu and Alberto Torrico. Though he praises Lieu's resume "he is a major in the Air Force Reserves and a former military prosecutor," he stated. He doesn't believe Lieu can't win a liberal primary.

Gillard ignores Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose base is the largest among any candidate running, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, a veteran member of the assembly with strong ties to the Hispanic community, former pro-business moderate Joe Canciamillia and the potential candidacy of Facebook Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, who would run as an outsider with strong ties to Silicon Valley and high-tech voters.

He also never mentions Lieu's endorsement from Controller John Chiang, and the more than $1 million already raised.

He does mention the possible candidacy of Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, brother to California first lady Maria Shriver. Shriver has not been mentioned in political reports as candidate to date, though Gillard wrote, "I would love to see the opposition research on him!" a slap at his liberal Kennedy-family ties.

Gillard also dismisses the only Republican candidate officially in the race, State Sen. Tom Harman.

"Nothing in his resume points to him being a strong statewide contender for attorney general," Gillard wrote. "He will be 70 years old in 2010. He is not a former prosecutor. He is not known as a champion for crime victims."

Yet, despite the concern, the fact is it's still early. None of the Democratic candidates are officially in the race, held up by Brown's lack of formal announcement. Republicans will emerge, probably with far more intensity if Brown declares he'll run for governor.

But for Gillard, a little kick in the pants to get moving surely won't hurt in the meantime.

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