Harris holds big lead over Cooley in undecided California attorney general race

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San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris speaks to supporters before a No on K press conference October 29, 2008 in San Francisco, California.

Kamala Harris picked up more than 9,000 votes yesterday in the still-undecided race for California attorney general. The San Francisco district attorney now leads L.A. County’s DA, Steve Cooley, by nearly 52,000 votes.

About eight-and-and-a-half million ballots have been counted; there’s a stack of 500,000 still to go.

Some political observers, like L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti, said last week that back-of-the-envelope calculations don’t give Cooley much hope of winning.

He thought he’d prevailed over his San Francisco counterpart on Election Night. But voters don’t vote the way they used to – and they haven’t for almost 30 years. More and more, they mail in their ballots.

We first saw that in the 1982 race for governor; L.A. mayor and Democrat Tom Bradley outpolled attorney general and Republican George Deukmejian on Election Day, only to see absentee ballots turn the result Deukmejian’s way. The same thing is happening to Steve Cooley.

We’ll know for sure when the secretary of state ratifies the results December 10.

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