[Photo: Kamala Harris, California attorney general-elect, talks with a voter. (Photo from Harris campaign website.)]
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (D) will be the next Attorney General of California in one of the last outstanding statewide races in the country. With her win, California's governor and attorney general come January will continue the current governor and attorney general's position of not defending Proposition 8 in court and not appealing the August ruling finding the amendment to be unconstitutional.
In the close race -- which started with an Election Night victory statement from Harris's opponent, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley -- Cooley offered a not-quite-gracious concession today, Nov. 24. In a statement posted on his website, he said:
"While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for Attorney General. Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California’s next Attorney General."
Harris leads by more than 50,000 votes, with about 150,000 votes outstanding, according to the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times earlier covered how the two contenders made clear their positions on Proposition 8 in their debate about a month before the election. From the LA Times:
In Tuesday's debate with Kamala Harris, Cooley said, "Proposition 8 was passed by a majority of the California electorate ... Therefore, it should be defended by the California attorney general whether the attorney general believes in it or not."
Harris's stand: "Now that Propositon 8 has been found to be unconstitutional by a federal district court judge, we should not use the precious resources of the state of California" on an appeal.
On the day of U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in August, Harris said in a statement:
"From the moment Attorney General Jerry Brown issued his analysis that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, I have proudly concurred with him. That position has been confirmed by Federal Judge Walker's opinion today and stands in a proud line of jurisprudence reflected so boldly in 1948 when California's Supreme Court ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion finally reached in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.
"Attorney General Brown, Judge Walker, and I have all sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. So, if I am given the privilege to serve as California's next Attorney General, I will not defend the anti-gay Proposition 8 in Federal court. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my opponent in the California Attorney General's race, who promises to put the full weight of the state of California behind a defense of this discriminatory amendment."
The news comes less than two weeks before the Ninth Circuit is scheduled, on Dec. 6, to hear more than two hours of oral arguments in the Proposition 8 proponents' appeal of Walker's decision. The hearing will be televised.
In addition to her position in support of marriage equality and in opposition to Proposition 8, Harris is an opponent of the death penalty. Her victory, though delayed, is sure to be viewed as of the key progressive victories in the 2010 elections.