Steve Cooley clings to slim lead in California attorney general's race

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley continued Wednesday to cling to a lead of about 28,500 votes in the race for California attorney general, according to a Times review of website updates by all 58 counties.

Cooley's margin has held relatively steady over San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris during the last few days. The secretary of state reported late Wednesday that counties have more than 1 million ballots still to count statewide — mostly mail-in ballots that arrived too late to be counted on election day and provisional ballots.

The latest figures show Cooley, the Republican candidate, with 4,018,959 votes compared to 3,990,368 for Harris, the Democrat. The numbers provided by the counties in many cases are more up to date than those posted Wednesday night on the secretary of state's website, which has lagged behind in the count.

Cooley trailed by 14,838 votes after the election night count, but passed Harris on Friday and has held a relatively steady lead since.

Still, officials from both campaigns warned against using the latest figures to predict who will win what has become the most closely contested race for the state's attorney general in two decades.

Cooley campaign strategist Kevin Spillane said the gap between the two candidates probably would be less than a single percentage point.

"It's going to be close," he said. "I'd rather be up than down … but I'm not ready to break out the cigars yet."

Brian Brokaw, a Harris campaign strategist, said the state is witnessing the same trend in counting that it saw on election night: Republican-leaning counties reporting early tallies to give Cooley the lead followed by Democratic-leaning counties supplying large numbers of votes for Harris.

"I don't think anyone is going to be able to jump to any conclusions until all of the votes are counted," Brokaw said.

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