2010 California Attorney General election

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2010 California Attorney General election

← 2006 November 2, 2010 2014 →
  Kamala Harris as District Attorney of San Francisco.jpg Steve Cooley cropped flipped.jpg
Nominee Kamala Harris Steve Cooley
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 4,442,781 4,368,624
Percentage 46.05% 45.28%

County results
Harris:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Cooley:      40-50%      50–60%      60–70%

Attorney General before election

Jerry Brown

Elected Attorney General

Kamala Harris

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 district attorneys from Los Angeles County and San Francisco, Republican Steve Cooley and Democrat Kamala Harris respectively. 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 attorney general, first African American attorney general (father from Jamaica), and first Asian American (mother from India) state attorney general when her term began in January 2011.[3]


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-Stronghold 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%) [4] 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.[5] The closest statewide race of the 2010 cycle in California, Cooley was the top vote-getter of the 2010 Republican ticket,[6] 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.

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kamala D. Harris 762,995 33.6
Democratic Alberto Torrico 354,792 15.6
Democratic Chris Kelly 350,757 15.5
Democratic Ted W. Lieu 237,618 10.5
Democratic Pedro Nava 222,941 9.7
Democratic Rocky Delgadillo 219,494 9.6
Democratic Mike Schmier 127,291 5.5
Total votes 2,275,888 100.0

Republican primary[edit]



Republican primary results[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steve Cooley 1,012,294 47.3
Republican John Eastman 737,025 34.5
Republican Tom Harman 391,618 18.2
Total votes 2,140,937 100.0

Minor parties[edit]

American Independent Party[edit]


American Independent primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
American Independent Diane Beall Templin 39,103 100.0
Total votes 39,103 100.0

Green Party[edit]

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


Green primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Green Peter Allen 20,845 100.0
Total votes 20,845 100.0

Libertarian Party[edit]

  • Timothy Hannan, attorney, mediator and arbitrator


Libertarian primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Libertarian Timothy J. Hannan 17,957 100.0
Total votes 17,957 100.0

Peace and Freedom Party[edit]

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


Peace and Freedom primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Peace and Freedom Robert Evans 3,892 100.0
Total votes 3,892 100.0

General election[edit]

Harris speaking at a Democratic rally at USC in October 2010


Poll source Date(s)
of error
Harris (D)
Cooley (R)
Other Undecided
Suffolk University October 21–24, 2010 600 ± 4.0% 35% 34% 5% [8] 26%
Los Angeles Times/USC October 13–20, 2010 922 ± 3.2% 35% 40%
David Binder Research September 23–27, 2010 800 ± 3.5% 30% 27% 11% 32%
Field Poll September 14–21, 2010 599 ± 4.1% 31% 35% 34%
Field Poll June 22 – July 5, 2010 357 ± 5.5% 34% 37% 29%


California Attorney General election, 2010[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Kamala Harris 4,442,781 46.05% -10.24%
Republican Steve Cooley 4,368,624 45.28% +7.17%
Green Peter Allen 258,879 2.68% +0.37%
Libertarian Timothy J. Hannan 246,583 2.56% +0.46%
American Independent Diane Beall Templin 169,993 1.76% N/A
Peace and Freedom Robert J. Evans 160,416 1.66% +0.47%
Total votes 9,647,276 100.00% N/A
Democratic hold


  1. ^ "Kamala Harris wins attorney general's race as Steve Cooley concedes". Los Angeles Times. November 24, 2010. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Lagos, Marisa (December 1, 2010). "Kamala Harris sets course as new attorney general". SF Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
  3. ^ Dick, Jason (August 12, 2020). "'It's just history': Kamala Harris as the VP nominee". CQ Roll Call. FiscalNote. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "California — Election Results 2010". NY Times. Archived from the original on 2010-11-06. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  5. ^ "L.A. Now". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2016-11-17. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
  6. ^ "GOP's Cooley Beats... GOP's Whitman | Capital Notes - From KQED's John Myers". Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2019-02-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Peter Allen (G) with 2%, Diane Templin (AI), Timothy Hannan (L), and Robert Evans (PF) each with 1%
  9. ^ "Statement of Vote November 2, 2010, General Election" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2010-12-13.

External links[edit]