Kamala Harris and Pedro Nava
Beware of politicians aiming their shotguns at defenseless fish in a barrel. When we first heard that San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a candidate for state attorney general, was behind a bill that would bar registered sex offenders from accessing social-networking Internet sites—whether or not they pose any danger to children—we rolled our eyes and figured she'd just lost our endorsement.
Upon closer review, however, Harris is saved by these facts: such a law would be impossible to enforce; we love her top priority—decreasing California's 160,000-inmate prison population by finding innovative ways to reduce recidivism; and she's a prosecutor with levelheaded opposition to the death penalty.
Harris is one of seven Democrats on the June 8 ballot, and she led the pack (with 22 percent) in a SurveyUSA poll of likely voters conducted a few weeks ago—although she was losing to “Undecided.”
Placing second in the poll (with 16 percent) was Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose campaign is weighted down by serious baggage. Delgadillo let his wife, whose license was suspended, drive a city-issued SUV, and she crashed it. And, he had city employees baby-sitting and running personal errands for him and his wife. These incidents demonstrate a remarkable lack of judgment. The Los Angeles Times says Delgadillo has been a “deep disappointment.” By contrast, two of Harris' hometown newspapers, The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, have endorsed her.
Another candidate, former Facebook attorney Chris Kelly, finds himself in the top three by virtue of the money he's pouring into his campaign, which he's using to finance TV ads attacking Harris. She's responding with her own attacks against Kelly, which raises his profile. Kelly doesn't have the kind of experience we're looking for in an attorney general candidate, and complaints about Facebook's privacy policies raise questions about Kelly's commitment to defending consumer rights.
The next tier includes three legislators—Ted Lieu, Alberto Torrico and Pedro Nava. Torrico, a darling of labor, is spending way too much time on this campaign talking about education policy. We understand the link between education and crime, but education is too far removed from the AG purview, and he appears to be pandering to the teachers union. Lieu co-authored the bill that's letting L.A. football-stadium developer Ed Roski—a big Lieu campaign contributor—bypass environmental regulations.
Of these three, we like Nava the best. Representing coastal Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, he's long been a tough defender of California's environment and gets high marks not only from environmentalists, but also from consumer- and civil-rights advocates. He's been a prosecutor for the district attorney's offices in Santa Barbara and Fresno counties and was a member of the state Coastal Commission from 1997 to 2004. And, yes, we like that he's Latino and that he told the Chronicle that he wants to make sure wage and hours laws are enforced.
The seventh Democratic candidate is Michael Schmier, a lawyer from Emeryville. OK, moving on.
If you're worried about Delgadillo or Kelly winning, we suggest you cast a strategic vote for Harris, who isn't just talking about reducing recidivism—she's already instituted Back on Track in San Francisco, which diverts motivated young-adult drug offenders into a court-supervised job training programs. Harris truly seems to get the prevention concept. However, vote for Nava if you're itchy about a couple of scandals that have beset Harris—one involving tainted evidence in the crime lab and a bigger one involving her office's failure to provide for defense lawyers the criminal histories of cops who've testified in court, which is required by law.
Hey, don't worry, we're not leaving you Republicans in the lurch. State Sen. Tom Harman, who once campaigned as a moderate but has grown increasingly conservative, led the SurveyUSA poll. However, if you're a moderate, we recommend a vote for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. Though he doesn't like medi-pot dispensaries any more than Bonnie Dumanis does, his calls for the reform of the state's wrongheaded Three Strikes law and his opposition to a very problematic Jessica's Law earn our respect.
On June 8, vote for Pedro Nava or Kamala Harris if you're a Democrat, and vote for Cooley if you're Republican.
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