Steve Cooley done in by his own words?

cooley.JPG It'll be a while before they call the state attorney general's race, but L.A.'s district attorney might be regretting his smug answer during a debate about accepting both a salary and a county pension. Opponent Kamala Harris used the response in a crushingly effective ad - and at last check, Harris was up by 0.5 percent (with late absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted). Consider that for much of the campaign, before the ad went up, Cooley had a three or four point edge over Harris. Here's the text, via the Sacramento Bee:

Question: The attorney general makes about $150,000 a year, half what you made last year as district attorney of L.A. County. Do you plan to double dip by taking both a pension and your salary as attorney general?

Cooley: Yes, I do. I earned it. I definitely earned whatever pension rights I have and I will certainly rely upon that to supplement the very low, incredibly low, salary that's paid to the state attorney general.

Text displayed on screen: $150,000 a year isn't enough?

The beauty of the ad, of course, is that Harris never said a word. She didn't have to: Cooley was killing himself with his own words. He not only sidestepped the state's epic pension crisis, borne out of government employees like him having been promised too much, but he compounded the miscue by griping about a salary of $150,000 a year - with the state having an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. This should go down as one of the dumbest responses ever given in a political debate - and it may prove to be the difference.

*Updated post

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook