Now that Lisa Murkowski has been declared the winner in Alaska, the highest-profile undecided race in the country may be the one for California attorney general.
With that, Politico decides to dip in:
If Cooley wins, said Republican strategist Adam Mendelsohn, “he'll be No. 1 on the California Republican bench.”
“This will be the guy that rank-and-file Republicans are looking to for
leadership over the next year. That will set him up to be looking at
governor in four years,” Mendelsohn said.
Not so fast. For one thing, it's getting harder and harder to see how Cooley wins. As of this moment, he's down by 30,000 votes with maybe 500,000 left to count.
Second, Cooley didn't show much interest in state office until Republicans prevailed on him to run for attorney general early this year. He got into the race relatively late, and while he was a diligent fund-raiser, he was an indifferent campaigner.
He waited until the last couple of weeks to start attacking Democratic rival Kamala Harris, and rarely put himself in front of large audiences. Having led in the polls the whole way, he collapsed in the final week of the campaign. If he were to run for governor, he'd have to display heretofore untapped reserves of stamina.
Having said that, win or lose Cooley did better than any other Republican on the ticket. So that's something. Plus, unlike the top-of-the-ticket Republicans in 2010, he has actual government experience, which could be useful. And in four years, he'll be 66 — not young, but still a decade younger than the incumbent.
So you never know. Perhaps you have not heard the last of Steve Cooley.