[Cheryl Miller and Kate Moser]
In the end, a crowded field of candidates, low voter turnout and $12.5 million could not beat Kamala Harris.
Flanked by her family, including brother-in-law and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tony West, Harris declared victory Tuesday night in the Democratic attorney general primary.
“We have a lot of good work ahead of us,” Harris told a cheering crowd at the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco. “Let’s celebrate tonight.”
Though May polls of likely voters suggested Harris’ support had stalled, the San Francisco district attorney was leading in 45 of 58 California counties, including vote-rich Los Angeles. She trounced former Facebook executive Chris Kelly in the Bay Area, even taking Kelly’s home county of San Mateo with 46 percent of the vote.
With just under half of the state’s precincts reporting, Harris was leading Kelly 33 percent to 17 percent.
Kelly, who funded his campaign with more than $12 million of his own money, was not ready to concede late Tuesday, still hoping that late returns in Los Angeles –- a market where he had advertised heavily –- would boost his numbers.
He said it was “strange” that Harris’ much-publicized troubles with San Francisco’s crime lab and law enforcement witnesses hadn’t hurt her more with voters. And he called Harris’ attacks on his Facebook tenure as inaccurate and “weird.”
“I feel pretty good,” he said from outside his campaign party in San Jose. “With just 15 percent of the precincts reporting we have over 100,000 votes. That’s success.”
Harris will face off in November against Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who was handily defeating two challengers in the Republican primary with 48.6 percent of the vote.
Cooley, who entered the primary relatively late, proved himself to be a proficient fundraiser. And his ability as a Republican to win heavily Democratic Los Angeles County makes him a real threat to put the attorney general’s office under Republican control for the first time in 12 years.