Los Angeles district attorney race: Democrats, Republicans choose sides in non-partisan battle

Chief Deputy DA Jackie Lacey (R) and Deputy DA Alan Jackson.
Chief Deputy DA Jackie Lacey (R) and Deputy DA Alan Jackson.
Mae Ryan/KPCC; votealanjackson.com

The race for Los Angeles district attorney is officially non-partisan, but there are a Democrat and a Republican in the run-off, and the parties are weighing in anyway.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party on Thursday announced it's endorsing Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a registered Democrat who now serves as second-in-command in the office.

“Jackie Lacey has the prosecutorial and executive experience to be a first-class District Attorney. She will demand that L.A.’s criminal justice system uphold the Democratic values of justice and equality for all,” said Eric C. Bauman, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

Lacey finished first in the primary, with 32 percent of the vote. She’ll face Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson in November — 24 percent of voters backed him.

Jackson, a registered Republican, has received the support of the California Republican Party and the state’s top GOP elected official, Board of Equalization Vice Chair Michelle Steel.

“Alan has been battle-tested and will serve Los Angeles County well as our next District Attorney,” Steele said in a statement released by the campaign. Many other Republicans back Jackson, including L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonavich and State Sen. Tony Strickland.

One Republican who doesn’t support Jackson is incumbent DA Steve Cooley, who declined to seek another term. He supports Lacey, citing her management experience.

One key to the race will be labor union support. The union that represents nearly 1,000 front-line prosecutors backed Deputy DA Danette Meyers in the primary. In the past, the union has been critical of Lacey’s association with Cooley, whom some view as anti-union.

More than 20 police unions representing small cities in L.A. County support Jackson, a well-known prosecutor who works in the major crimes division. The bigger and more powerful Los Angeles Police Protective League and Association of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs have yet to endorse. Both could pour substantial resources into political advertising for the candidate of their choice.

Another question in the race for DA: Who, if anyone, will L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich support? He garnered 22 percent of the vote in his primary bid for the office. Trutanich may be reluctant to back Lacey because Cooley backs her. Trutanich and Cooley, once political allies, have had a falling out. Jackson’s campaign, on the other hand, was highly critical of Trutanich during the primary.

Both candidates are furiously fundraising. One political consultant said a viable fall campaign for district attorney would cost at least $1 million.