Poll: GOP voters unsure in Calif. AG race

Chris Rizo Jan. 19, 2010, 1:19pm

Tom Harman (R)

Steve Cooley (R)

John Eastman (R)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-The Republican race for California attorney general is a wide open contest, a poll issued by one of the campaigns indicates.

Running for the Republican AG nomination is state Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who just recently formed an exploratory campaign.

The poll released Tuesday by the Harman camp shows that more than 61 percent of Republican voters said they are unsure about who they will support in the GOP primary.

Among respondents backing a candidate, Harman beats Cooley 21 percent to 15 percent in the internal statewide survey of Republican likely voters conducted last week.

The Harman camp said that when respondents were told that Cooley has been a leading opponent of the state's Three Strikes sentencing law, the prosecutor's poll numbers slid, with him losing to Harman 57 percent to 17 percent.

The poll also showed that Harman would best a possible third Republican candidate for attorney general, Chapman law school dean John Eastman. The internal Harman poll shows Harman beating Eastman nearly 28 percent to almost 12 percent among likely GOP primary voters.

The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Harman strategist Wayne Johnson said the poll indicates that his candidate is the race frontrunner.

"These numbers should put to rest any notion that Tom Harman is not only the frontrunner, but that he is in this race to stay," Johnson said.

The Republicans come from a variety of professional backgrounds.

Harman is the ranking Republican member on the state Senate Judiciary Committee and a former state assemblyman. Cooley was elected Los Angeles County's top prosecutor in 2000. As for Eastman, he is considered one of the leading conservative legal minds in the state.

On the Democratic side, a crowded field is vying to succeed Jerry Brown, who is widely expected to run for the Democratic nomination for governor this year.

Democrats vying for their party's AG nomination include: Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico of Newark, Assemblyman Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara, Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer for the Web site Facebook.

Johnson said Harman would be the "best match-up" for any of the potential Democratic nominees.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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