Harris starts attorney general campaign

November 12, 2008 7:21:45 PM PST
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris launched what can best be described as a game of "political musical chairs." She announced plans to run for state Attorney General in two years.

But what she really does will depend on what the current Attorney General Jerry Brown decides to do and what he does, depends on Senator Dianne Feinstein's future in Washington.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris walked confidently into the city's Election Department on Wednesday morning and filed papers to run for state attorney general.

She got a hug from her brother-in-law San Francisco attorney Tony West, and then off to a series of interviews in which she focused on her goals of combating gangs, reforming the state's prison system and her record as D.A.

"We have increased the felony conviction rate to the highest that it's been in the San Francisco D.A's Office in 12 years," said Harris.

She's also drawn her share of critics. Four years ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein chastised Harris for ruling out the death penalty in the 2004 murder of San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza.

But now Harris' political future may depend in large part on what Senator Feinstein decides about her own future.

Harris says she she'll drop out of the race if incumbent Attorney General Jerry Brown decides to run for re-election.

"I believe that Jerry Brown is doing good work and if he decides to continue on as attorney general I will not challenge him," said Harris.

But Harris believes the A.G's office will be open, because Jerry Brown will be running for governor. Brown has expressed an interest in being governor and so has senator Dianne Feinstein.

Polls show she'd start out as the heavy favorite and it would be unlikely brown would want to challenge.

So Harris' run which just got going, could stop short if Senator Feinstein decides to run for governor rather than remain in Washington.

What might keep in Washington is the strong likelihood that Feinstein could become the next head of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- a powerful position particularly with a Democratic president.

Her staff says a she'll announce her decision after the first of the year. Meanwhile, Harris believes the breaks will fall her way.

"Let me just clear this up in case there is any confusion. The reality is that I believe there is going to be an open seat for attorney general of California and I intend to run for and win that position," said Harris.

Politicians have always considered who they'd have to run against. It's common that a challenger like Harris wouldn't want to run against an incumbent from her own party.

But in this case it's unusual that a U.S. senator who criticized a local district attorney is now a pivotal person in Kamala Harris' political career.

To read more about Harris' campaign, click on The Back Story.


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