By Peter Jamison
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris today released an online ad targeting her Republican opponent in the race for state attorney general. The ad assails Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, in so many words, as a sexist coddler of child molesters.
The video attacks Cooley for comments he made at a University of Southern California crime forum in 2009. Said Cooley, "You know what gets an initiative passed in California? Name it after a female... Jessica's Law, stuff like that." He was referring to a California law, similar to legislation enacted by other states, that imposes tougher penalties and residency restrictions on sex offenders. The law is named after Jessica Lunsford (PDF), a Florida girl who was raped and murdered in 2005.
Cooley opposed the ballot initiative that enacted the law, arguing that limits on where sex offenders can live would make it more difficult to track them. Asks Harris' new ad, "What does he have against laws named after 'females?'" The other two "questions" in the spot criticize Cooley's handling of environmental crimes in L.A. and his opposition to national health-care reform.
What can you say? It's never to early to play the gender card and exploit irrational fears of sexual predators in a big election, particularly since Harris is likely to face serious questions about her crime-fighting record in San Francisco.