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METRO NEWS * LOCAL ELECTIONS

Garcetti Endorsed by Davis, Feinstein

Challenger Cooley dismisses Democrats' statements as partisanship and says a non-politician should hold the D.A. post.

November 02, 2000|MITCHELL LANDSBERG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gov. Gray Davis and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein endorsed fellow Democrat Gil Garcetti for Los Angeles County district attorney Wednesday, injecting a fresh spurt of partisanship into an officially nonpartisan race.

In written statements issued through the Garcetti campaign, the two praised the two-term district attorney's performance in office, with Feinstein citing especially his efforts to combat hate crimes and gang violence. Davis' statement was less effusive, but lauded Garcetti's "professionalism, fairness and justice."

Davis' endorsement was a rare foray by a governor into a local prosecutor's race. Garcetti said he was honored by the governor's support, and grateful for Feinstein's. He noted that he was endorsed earlier in the campaign by Sen. Barbara Boxer, California's other Democratic U.S. senator.

"Obviously, getting the governor of the state of California and getting both our U.S. senators is sending a persuasive message to the voters that this is the man we want to work with," he said in a brief telephone interview.

Garcetti's challenger, Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, dismissed both endorsements as pure partisanship.

"While I respect the governor and the senator, let's be honest," Cooley said. "They are politicians predictably returning the favor of another politician's endorsement. They hold offices that politicians should hold. Gil Garcetti holds an office that a politician shouldn't hold."

Davis seemed to go out of his way to acknowledge that there was an element of political payback in his endorsement. "I was pleased that he was one of just a few district attorneys who had the courage to support me in my race against Dan Lungren in 1998," the governor wrote in his two-sentence message of support for Garcetti.

Garcetti, who is trying to beat back a strong challenge by Cooley, has made an issue of the fact that Cooley is a Republican running in a predominantly Democratic county.

Feinstein and Boxer also endorsed Garcetti four years ago, when he first ran for reelection.

Feinstein said she had worked closely with Garcetti on anti-crime measures. "He supported and spoke on behalf of my successful legislation to ban assault weapons, and I am confident that if he remains our district attorney, I can once again turn to him to support additional gun safety measures," she wrote.

Garcetti has won endorsements from numerous elected officials, most of them Democrats. He has received support from a few Republicans, including county Supervisor Don Knabe and Sheriff Lee Baca.

Cooley has received less support from elected officials, but has been endorsed by all three living former district attorneys--Ira Reiner, Robert Philibosian and John Van de Kamp--and by numerous law enforcement organizations.

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