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.