The Race For District Attorney: Mario Trujillo Close To A Decision

There are at least two challenges for the career prosecutors considering whether to run for D.A. 1) How to deal with Carmen Trutanich, who has told supporters that he will run if Steve Cooley retires, and who would be the frontrunner. And 2) How to deal with Steve Cooley.

That's to say: Do you accept that Cooley has been a successful and popular D.A., and vow to essentially continue his legacy? Or do you look at his recent drubbing in L.A. County at the hands of Kamala Harris and decide that the county is hungry for change?

One of the folks trying to thread that needle is Mario Trujillo, the head deputy in the Bellflower office.

Trujillo has set up a website for his campaign, but has not yet formally announced. In an interview, he praised Cooley for his policy against prosecuting non-violent third strikes. But he also offered a mild critique, especially on the issue of recidivism.

"His decision on three strikes is well received," Trujillo said. "But there's many more things that can be done with this office. We need to look at alternative sentencing programs. It's clear, with the budget crisis, that we're not going to get more money from the supervisors. And the recidivism rate speaks for itself."

Trujillo is at least the fifth prosecutor to express a serious interest in running for D.A. next year. Among the others, Alan Jackson and Jackie Lacey would be most closely aligned with Cooley's policies. Danette Meyers is trying to define herself as the "change" candidate, challenging Cooley's record with much the same rhetoric that Harris used to beat him in the attorney general's race. Somewhere in the middle is Bobby Grace, who has offered both praise and criticism for Cooley.

The only one who hasn't staked out a position yet is Trutanich, and that's because -- at least officially -- he is playing coy about whether he will even run. Whenever he does get in, look for all the other candidates to train their fire on him.

For the non-Trutanich candidates, there are other challenges as well, such as how to raise money, how to court law enforcement groups, and how to build name identification. None of them have run for anything before. On fundraising, Jackson has the first-mover advantage, having announced early and already put more than $100,000 in the bank.

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