Villaraigosa endorses Kamala Harris in race for attorney general

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday announced his endorsement of San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala D. Harris for California attorney general, snubbing two of her rivals from Los Angeles.

Harris’ challengers include former Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, who is a Democrat along with Harris and Villaraigosa, and Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican.

“Now more than ever we need leaders in this state who have a proven track record of getting things done [and] the ability to fix problems with new and innovative solutions. Kamala Harris is that leader,” said Villaraigosa, who has known Harris for 15 years.

Villaraigosa declined to explain why he thought Harris was more qualified than Delgadillo or Cooley, saying he preferred to stick to a “positive affirmation” of Harris.

Party loyalty would explain the mayor rebuffing Cooley. As for Delgadillo, the two Democrats had a simmering feud when they were both at City Hall.

Villaraigosa praised Harris for her record as a prosecutor and for launching crime prevention initiatives. Those include her “Back on Track” program intended to reduce recidivism by diverting low-level, first-time nonviolent drug offenders into a program that teaches life skills.

Harris has faced scrutiny over Back on Track, which had allowed at least a half-dozen offenders who were illegal immigrants to join the program and wipe their records clean.

Along with Harris and Delgadillo, other Democratic candidates for attorney general are Assemblymen Ted Lieu of Torrance, Alberto Torrico of Newark and Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara, as well as Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer.

Challenging Cooley for the GOP nomination are state Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach and John Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University Law School.