Close observers of the 2010 California Attorney General's race probably saw this one coming. With less than two weeks remaining until election day on Nov. 2, Republican activists are going to spend about $1 million blanketing the airwaves with commercials attacking San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris for her refusal to seek the death penalty in the 2004 killing of police officer Isaac Espinoza.
The ads (you can view one above) feature video of Espinoza's mother and images of the officer himself. Harris' decision -- which was consistent with statements she made during her 2003 campaign for the district attorney's seat -- created a permanent rift between her office and the San Francisco Police Department. It's also seen as her greatest weakness in her statewide race against Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Harris' campaign is already playing defense, with campaign spokesman Brian Brokaw sending out a press release assailing the GOP organization funding the ads, the Republican State Leadership Committee. The release calls the group a "shadowy, out-of-state group," and notes that it is led by former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and Bush adviser Karl Rove. Committee spokesman Adam Temple told the Sacramento Bee that about $1 million would be spent on the ads.
Californians don't necessarily like the idea of out-of-state groups trying to buy elections. But this sort of campaign-finance metaphysics is no match for video footage of a slain cop's mother. With Cooley leading in the polls, Harris could be facing an uphill battle before election day.