A catty (but fun!) statistical spat has broken out between two candidates in the race for California Attorney General.
First, Facebook lawyer Chris Kelly blasted San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris for crime stats released last week by the state. He noted, among other categories, that San Francisco’s homicide rate increased by 32 percent since Harris has been DA, while the statewide homicide rate dropped 16 percent in the same period.
So Harris’ campaign retorted: “Instead of spending $2 million and counting on his own Facebook fortune running for a job for which he’s eminently unqualified, perhaps he should go back and clerk for another year – and actually learn a little something about fighting crime.”
Harris’ campaign manager, Brian Brokaw, also mocked Kelly’s proficiency with crime stats, saying he should have instead looked at the state’s most recent numbers through June 2009, where he would have found that homicides in San Francisco decreased by 51.9 percent between the first six months of 2008 and the first six months of 2009, compared with a statewide decline of 18.2 percent during the same period.
Kelly reiterated his critique yesterday while his campaign spokeswoman attacked the Harris campaign for comparing 2009 and 2008 stats, getting in her own choice one-liner: “Kamala Harris says she is smart on crime, but these statistics and her campaign’s obfuscatory response sound more like she’s trying to be slick on crime.”
While all the back-and-forth is fun to watch, the big question is — what does Harris’ performance have to do with crime rates in San Francisco?
Not much, says San Francisco political analyst David Latterman.
“Using overall crime statistics isn’t enough to make that case,” Latterman said today. “He’s got to go after conviction rates, dismissals, number of felonies tried. You look at all of it and you build a picture of a DA’s office that does or doesn’t do its job.”