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With the San Francisco district attorney’s election more than six months away, incumbent Terence Hallinan and challenger Kamala Harris, a deputy city attorney, have already started lining up endorsements of local, state and national politicians. Harris has managed to skim away at least two supporters who backed Hallinan in 1999 — most recently, former DA Arlo Smith. Returning challenger Bill Fazio, a solo criminal defense attorney, explained a blank endorsement list by saying it’s early in the game and he has just begun soliciting supporters. “It is early,” agreed Sam Lauter, a principal at San Francisco political consulting firm Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners. Lauter’s company is not representing any of the candidates for DA, though he said he intends to personally support Kamala Harris. “Voters are not going to be noticing what’s going on in the district attorney’s race for a little while.” But Lauter can think of one advantage for candidates who get supporters to sign on early. “People get locked up,” leaving a shrinking pool of big names for opposing candidates to draw from. In the political arena, Hallinan’s side is quick to point out that he has a national politician with hometown roots — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on his list. Harris’ campaign manager Jim Stearns paints her as a candidate with support from “all over the map.” He notes that among the names on her list , Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Aaron Peskin are widely known as political rivals, and former Supervisor Harry Britt and Assemblyman Mark Leno competed against each other for the Democratic Assembly nomination. “To have Mark Leno and Harry Britt speaks volumes,” Lauter said. Then again, “there’s no one more highly thought of in the political world of San Francisco than Nancy Pelosi.” “In other words, they’re both doing really well on the endorsement side,” Lauter said. Hallinan also has the support of former Assemblywoman Carole Migden, now a member of the California State Board of Equalization; Supervisors Matt Gonzalez, Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval and Jake McGoldrick; and about a dozen members of the Democratic Central Committee, said his campaign manager, Marc O’Hara. He’s even got a touch of Hollywood with celebrity Woody Harrelson, who’s endorsing him “primarily because of Terence’s advocacy for medical marijuana” patients, O’Hara said. In the legal community, Hallinan has received monetary contributions from “a lot of attorneys,” but none has been asked to sign formal endorsement cards yet, O’Hara said. Two people noticeably not backing Hallinan are his predecessor, Smith, and state Assemblyman Leland Yee. Both supported him against Fazio in 1999. Smith’s support came in the runoff portion of the election, O’Hara said. This time, they’re backing Harris. “I guess that’s two defections that I can think of,” said O’Hara, who managed one of Arlo Smith’s campaigns for state attorney general in the 1990s. Harris, formerly a prosecutor in both Alameda County and San Francisco, has gotten endorsements from Supervisors Fiona Ma and Sophie Maxwell, as well as former Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg. Mayor Brown, incidentally, is one of Harris’ former flames. Harris also snagged support from several high-profile members of the legal community, including James Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster; John Keker of Keker & Van Nest; Paul Renne of Cooley Godward, who is also the husband of former City Attorney Louise Renne; Lovely Dhillon, executive director of the Law School Consortium Project; Eva Paterson, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; William Coblentz of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass; and Juvenile Probation Commissioner Damone Hale. Fazio � who was a longtime attorney in the DA’s office until he decided to run against his boss, Arlo Smith, in 1995 — said he doesn’t have a list of endorsements yet, but only because he’s barely begun to look. “Everything has been moved up so much more early this time than four years ago,” said the veteran challenger, who has twice lost the seat to Hallinan in runoff elections. Fazio said he sent out his first letter soliciting contributions and support about a week ago. He said he expects to receive many endorsements similar to those he got in 1999. They included former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the S.F. Police Officers Association. “I work very hard to make sure I have the support of the rank-and-file members of the police department and the defense attorneys and community leaders,” said Fazio. “I think I will.” Lauter said endorsements chiefly come into play when a voter is torn between two candidates and is looking for a tie breaker.

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