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SACRAMENTO — State Sen. Joe Dunn, an early announced contender for state attorney general, has bowed out of the race for top cop and will instead run for state treasurer in 2006. He said Wednesday that he decided to switch races because of a desire to serve “in the great watchdog role” exemplified by outgoing Treasurer Phil Angelides — not because he thought he would lose to either Jerry Brown, the former governor and current mayor of Oakland, or to Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard “Rocky” Delgadillo. “Up until this week, all the candidates in the AG’s race, including myself, were very good candidates,” said Dunn. “I don’t know in the final analysis who was going to be victorious.” Brown, whose long career has included runs for the U.S. Senate and presidency, has high name recognition and has already raised half a million dollars more than Dunn. The departure of Dunn, a Garden Grove Democrat and a non-equity partner at Newport Beach plaintiff firm Robinson Calcagnie & Robinson, may push open the door for another plaintiff bar candidate: Burlingame litigator Joseph Cotchett Jr. Cotchett, a huge Democratic donor, said Wednesday he is “seriously looking” at entering the AG race “and has been for some time.” Brown for his part has already raised $1.4 million, with contributions coming from attorneys and Bay Area luminaries like Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. Delgadillo is well known in Los Angeles. He announced his candidacy last month, a few days after spending more than a million dollars running unopposed for re-election. “Joe Dunn clearly made a decision not to create a free-for-all,” said Democratic political consultant Darry Sragow. “When you have three experienced and credible candidates of the caliber of Jerry Brown and Rocky Delgadillo and Joe Dunn, it’s pretty difficult to strategize and handicap.” In the treasurer’s race, Dunn is up against Dario Frommer, a Democratic assemblyman from Glendale, and John Chiang, a Board of Equalization member. “Presumably he’s opting for more certainty,” said Sragow. Dunn chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee but will be termed out next year. He’s been a tireless advocate for court funding, as well as a staunch ally of the Consumer Attorneys of California. He finished last year with $900,000 in campaign contributions, with $5,300 apiece from lawyers Wylie Aitken, Brian Panish and Bruce Broillet. State Sen. Charles Poochigian of Fresno remains the only Republican candidate in the attorney general’s race. Last week, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley responded to speculation by announcing he wouldn’t enter the race.

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