L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley lamented the rise of partisanship in his concession message today, echoing a complaint that his consultants have been making since Election Day.
In their view, Cooley had a scarlet R next to his name, and it led to his defeat.
It bears repeating that Cooley lost by less than a percent, and could easily have won had his campaign done things differently. But it's worth pushing back against this I'm-a-victim-of-my-own-political-affiliation argument before it takes hold.
Here's what Cooley said in his statement:
“It is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan non-politician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach.”
First of all, there's a reason the attorney general's office is a partisan position. The portfolio includes hot-button issues such as enforcing environmental regulations, pursuing mortgage fraud, and enforcing drug laws. That's not to mention the major role the A.G. plays in labeling ballot measures and defending them (or not) from legal challenges. This is not county clerk or dogcatcher. It's a political job. There are politics involved.
So when you run for partisan office, you shouldn't be surprised that voters start to see you in partisan terms. That's especially the case when you won't defend the state's climate change law, when you oppose medical marijuana, when you say you will sue to block health care reform, and when you defend Proposition 8.
There is a word for someone who holds those views, and that word is Republican.
Wear it with pride.