California Attorney General election, 2010

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California Attorney General election, 2010

← 2006 November 2, 2010 2014 →

  Kamala Harris Official Attorney General Photo.jpg Steve Cooley cropped flipped.jpg
Nominee Kamala Harris Steve Cooley
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 4,443,070 4,368,617
Percentage 46.1% 45.3%

Election results by county

Attorney General before election

Jerry Brown

Elected Attorney General

Kamala Harris

Harris speaking at a Democratic rally at USC in October 2010

The 2010 California Attorney General election was held on November 2, 2010 to choose the Attorney General of California. The primary election was held on June 8, 2010. Incumbent Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat was elected Governor of California.

The two major candidates were Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley of the Republican Party and San Francisco County District Attorney Kamala Harris representing the Democratic Party. On November 24, 2010, Cooley conceded to Harris, giving the Democrats a sweep of statewide executive offices.[1] On November 30, Harris declared victory.[2] Harris was the state's first female African-American and the nation's first Asian-American state attorney general when her term began in January 2011.

The campaign[edit]

For much of the election cycle following the primary election, political analysts theorized early on that the strength of Cooley's name after being twice elected District Attorney in Democratic-leaning Los Angeles County, being viewed as a rising star in the California Republican Party along with the strength of Meg Whitman's well-funded campaign anchoring the California Republican ticket in 2010 made Steve Cooley the initial favorite by a slight margin to win the election.

Kamala Harris coalesced Democratic support with her opposition to Proposition 8, which Cooley promised to defend in court, opposing the unpopular Proposition 23 and any proposal for an SB 1070-style law in California. Harris benefitted from an endorsement and joint appearance with President Barack Obama at a rally at the University of Southern California before election day as well as a focus of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party on promoting her candidacy in Los Angeles County towards the final weeks of the campaign, which promised to make the race competitive.

On election night, the headliners on the Republican ticket, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were soundly defeated by Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, with Democrats having a healthy margin to declare victory in every other statewide contest, save for attorney general. Abel Maldonado, who was defeated for his reelection bid as Lieutenant Governor, stated that errors of the Whitman and Fiorina campaigns dragged Republican candidates on the bottom of the ticket down along with the fading fortunes of Whitman and Fiorina towards the end of the race. [1]

The only bright spot statewide for the California Republican Party that night were early returns showing Cooley with a lead of up to eight points, in which he and many news organizations declared victory. However, the next morning, returns from Los Angeles County, which was believed to be a Cooley stronghold came in strong for Kamala Harris, removing one of Cooley's key advantages and making the race too close to call. Cooley then canceled a victory press conference scheduled for that day.

Los Angeles and San Francisco County reported their returns, which favored Harris with less than 38,000 votes (45.9% versus 45.7%) [3] separating both candidates at the end of counting that day.

On November 24, 2010, Cooley conceded the race when it was determined that he was going to be unable to overcome the 50,000-vote lead that Harris had built up and maintained during the past week, with a majority of the uncounted ballots coming from counties which Harris won.[4] The closest statewide race of the 2010 cycle in California, Cooley is the top vote-getter of the 2010 Republican ticket,[5] while Harris's victory gave the Democratic Party a clean sweep of all of California's statewide offices - a feat the party had last accomplished in 2002.


The following were certified by the California Secretary of State as candidates in the primary election for Attorney General.[6] Candidates who won their respective primaries and qualified for the general election are shown in bold.

American Independent[edit]



  • Peter Allen, attorney, former prosecutor, administrative law judge, and consumer advocate


  • Timothy Hannan, attorney, mediator and arbitrator

Peace and Freedom[edit]

  • Robert Evans, attorney, activist, former Recording Secretary of the Peace and Freedom Party


Primary results[edit]


California Democratic Attorney General primary, 2010
Candidate Votes %
Kamala Harris 762,995 33.6
Alberto Torrico 354,792 15.6
Chris Kelly 350,757 15.5
Ted Lieu 237,618 10.5
Pedro Nava 222,941 9.7
Rocky Delgadillo 219,494 9.6
Mike Schmier 127,291 5.5
Total votes 2,275,888 100.00
Voter turnout 30.1%


California Republican Attorney General primary, 2010
Candidate Votes %
Steve Cooley 1,012,294 47.3
John C. Eastman 737,025 34.5
Tom Harman 391,618 18.2
Total votes 2,140,937 100.00
Voter turnout 40.1%


California Attorney General primary, 2010 (others)
Party Candidate Votes %
American Independent Diane Templin 39,103 100.00
Green Peter Allen 20,845 100.00
Libertarian Timothy Hannan 17,957 100.00
Peace and Freedom Robert Evans 3,892 100.00

General election polling[edit]

Poll source Dates administered Steve Cooley (R) Kamala Harris (D) Undecided/Other
Suffolk University October 21–24, 2010 34% 35% 31%
Los Angeles Times/USC October 13–20, 2010 40% 35% -
David Binder Research September 23–27, 2010 27% 30% 43%
The Field Poll September 14–21, 2010 35% 31% 34%
The Field Poll June 22–June 25, 2010 37% 34% 23%

General election results[edit]

California Attorney General election, 2010[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kamala Harris 4,443,070 46.1
Republican Steve Cooley 4,368,617 45.3
Green Peter Allen 258,880 2.7
Libertarian Timothy J. Hannan 246,584 2.6
American Independent Diane Beall Templin 169,994 1.7
Peace and Freedom Robert J. Evans 160,426 1.6
Total votes 9,647,571 100.00
Democratic hold


External links[edit]