Is Kamala Harris Scared of Chris Kelly?

Categories: Politics
Kamala Harris rally.jpg
Hey, Kamala Harris...
In politics, as in life, smart folks pick their battles. If you're winning the race, it doesn't do to get caught jawing with some little-known also-ran. So the recent, persistent efforts of Kamala Harris -- the Democratic front-runner in the Attorney General's race -- to deep-six former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly's rival campaign by tying him to the website's controversial policies say a lot. It says that San Francisco's District Attorney is wary of the political naif. And perhaps a bit scared.

"If one of your opponents is not as well-known or not to be taken seriously, the last thing you want to do is give the guy name recognition," said San Francisco political consultant David Latterman. "To hit someone publicly, they have to be taking him seriously. It means people must know who the dude is. And now they've gotta go after him. They must know something."

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By "something," Latterman holds out that Harris' people must have some kind of internal polling "showing weakness. They must have something internally that shows there's a there there." Otherwise, why should front-runner Harris empty both barrels on a little-known political newcomer?

Because he's rich as hell, answers Harris campaign manager Brian Brokaw.

Brokaw denies he's got any polling numbers other than those released publicly; the SurveyUSA poll puts Harris at about 22 percent, well ahead of Kelly's 11 percent mark.

The only Kelly number Brokaw says he's got his eye on is the former Facebook privacy officer's bank account. "He is now $9.6 million into this race. Chris Kelly is attempting to buy the election," says Brokaw. "Any candidate who puts in just under $10 million in the race for Attorney General has to be taken seriously."

When asked if Kelly could win this race, Brokaw -- naturally -- brought up the former Facebook executive's damning Facebook ties. Can't blame the man for staying on-message.

And you can't blame him for attempting to body-check a wealthy opponent on the cusp of a media blitz, either. Harris' people "are being responsible and taking Kelly seriously," says city consultant Sam Lauter. Kelly's deep pockets, Lauter continues, give him the ability to augment his poll numbers quickly. Harris' campaign needs to work to nip that in the bud. 

"The worst thing a campaign can do is decide the race is over before it's over," Lauter says. "Like I keep telling my son in baseball, run through first base. You've gotta run through election day."

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