For months, the pundits said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti was doomed to lose his tooth-and-claw battle with challenger Steve Cooley, a race that set new standards for political debate if not decorum.
Chalk one up for the pundits.
Cooley trounced Garcetti, 64% to 36%, after a campaign in which the two bitter rivals engaged in no fewer than 15 debates, tangling over such issues as the Rampart police scandal, the three-strikes law, Garcetti’s crime prevention programs and his general conduct in office. Afterward, both candidates agreed that voters simply wanted a change.
Garcetti served two terms as district attorney, overseeing hundreds of thousands of cases in the busiest local prosecutorial agency in the United States. Ultimately, he was remembered primarily for two: the O.J. Simpson case, which his office lost, and the Rampart case, which unfolded in his last months in office. Garcetti’s office won the first trial to emerge from the scandal--but only after the election was over. The convictions were later overturned.
Cooley, who took office Dec. 4, has promised sweeping changes, including a new standard for enforcing the three-strikes law and a greater emphasis on public corruption and police misconduct.
The D.A.'s race was one of several high-profile local races in November, none of which was fiercer than the contest between U.S. Rep. James E. Rogan, a Glendale Republican, and Democratic state Sen. Adam Schiff of Burbank.
The two candidates spent more than $10 million in the campaign, which Schiff handily won. Depending on final figures in some other races across the country, that could make it the most expensive House race in U.S. history.
Other notable political events: Term limits claimed the jobs of the two most prominent left-leaning politicians in the region, state Sen. Tom Hayden and City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg. Hayden declared his candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council. Goldberg won a seat in the state Assembly.