While Barbara Boxer returns to work and Jerry Brown imagines the mess before him, while Carly Fiorina nurses her wounds and Meg Whitman counts what's left of her money, one statewide race from last week goes on. The secretary of state continues to sift ballots in the extraordinarily close battle between two capable candidates, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris, who are competing for the office of attorney general of California. So far, that very long count has been followed diligently but respectfully by the candidates. They should resolve to keep it that way.
On election night, Cooley blurted an early declaration of victory, claiming the office as returns were still coming in. That became embarrassing when the lead shifted to Harris. Then, as absentee and provisional ballots were tallied, the contest settled into a siege. Late last week, Cooley gradually added to what has become his slim lead.
In the past, situations like this have brought out the worst in candidates. Who can forget Bush vs. Gore? Fresher are the memories of last week, when tight emotions produced a snarky election night all but devoid of the graces customarily observed. Few were the pledges of cooperation or bipartisanship, many the promises to fight on. The dignified exits of defeated candidates past — of John Glenn or Gerald Ford or Adlai Stevenson — seem consigned to history along with Republican moderates.