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Harris Remains Slightly Behind In Attorney General Race

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) -- Republican Steve Cooley maintained his lead in the tight race for California attorney general Monday, although the last unresolved contest for statewide office remained too close to call nearly a week after Election Day.

Cooley, Los Angeles County's district attorney, was up three-tenths of a percentage point over Democrat Kamala Harris with about 2 million ballots remaining to be counted.

A win by Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, would give Democrats a sweep of statewide offices in a race that has drawn national attention because of California's influence.

The tally has been up and down by thousands of votes since election night. Within a three-hour span Monday, Cooley's lead rose to 44,000 votes, then dropped to 19,000 as more results came in, according to the secretary of state's office.

The lead has changed hands twice since election night with nearly 8 million ballots tallied so far. The roughly 2 million remaining late, damaged or provisional ballots must be counted before the Nov. 30 official vote canvass.

Harris had led in the early days after the election following a strong showing by Cooley on Election Day.

Harris spokesman Brian Brokaw said Cooley's surge reflects late mail-in ballots being counted in conservative areas in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

"It's sort of unfolding the way election night unfolded, with the reddest (most conservative) counties being counted first," Brokaw said.

Los Angeles County had yet to count 412,000 ballots as of Friday, according to the most recent statewide tally posted Monday by the secretary of state's office. On Election Day, Harris led in Los Angeles County by a 14-point margin.

Several Bay Area counties also had large numbers of ballots uncounted. San Diego County, which favored Cooley, still had 218,000 votes outstanding.

"There's still a lot of ballots to be counted in counties carried by both Cooley and Harris, so it's premature to say who's won," Cooley spokesman Kevin Spillane said. "It's going to continue to fluctuate over the next few days, and maybe longer."

(Copyright 2010 by CBS Broadcasting Inc. and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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