Kamala Harris clings to lead for California attorney general

November 3rd, 2010 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 3 (IANS) Hours after Indian-American Nikki Haley created history by winning the governor’s job in South Carolina, another woman of Indian origin, Kamala Harris holds a razor-thin lead in the election for attorney general of California.

With nearly 7 million ballots counted, Democrat Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and African-American father, was holding a lead of fewer than 38,000 votes over Republican Steve Cooley in the race for state attorney general.

But with thousands of late absentee and provisional ballots remaining uncounted, she has not been declared a winner.

If her victory holds, Harris would become the first Indian-African-American and first woman ever to hold the job of California attorney general.

Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, jumped out to an early lead over Harris as the votes were being counted across the state Tuesday night.

Cooley declared victory and scheduled a victory press conference for Wednesday morning. But as the race tightened, Cooley’s campaign announced he was cancelling the press conference until the race had a more definitive result.

Born and raised in the East Bay, Kamala was elected as the first woman district attorney in San Francisco’s history in December 2003, and as the first African-American woman and South Asian American woman in California to hold the office.

She was overwhelmingly re-elected for a second term in November 2007.

Kamala is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, a Tamilian breast cancer specialist who travelled to the US from Chennai, to pursue her graduate studies at University of California, Berkeley.

After attending public schools, Kamala was led by her strong commitment to justice and public service to Howard University, America’s oldest historically Black university, and then to the University of California and Hastings College of the Law.

California’s largest legal newspaper, The Daily Journal, designated Kamala as one of the top 75 women litigators in California “the only elected official to receive that honour” as well as one of the top 100 lawyers in the state.

She was recognised as a ‘Woman of Power’ by the National Urban League and received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Black Prosecutors Association. She has been featured on the Oprah Show and in Newsweek as one of “America’s 20 Most Powerful Women”.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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