Where’s the Profanity? Where’s the Mud?

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s race has turned into one big snooze fest. Sure, clean campaigning is good for democracy, but what about the needs of reporters with column inches to fill?

There’s obvious dislike between some of the four candidates — Assistant DA Marc Buller, Judge Dolores Carr, Deputy DA James Shore and Chief Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu. But so far it’s mostly smiles on their public faces, with everyone playing nice.

The Get-Along Gang faced off against each other again on Thursday night. The setting this time was before a sparse, lackluster crowd at Stanford Law School. If you missed this latest “debate,” don’t worry, you didn’t miss much: just the same old canned answers. The death penalty, hate crimes, Three-Strikes litigation and an explosive San Jose Mercury News series detailing the flaws of the DA’s office are all good issues, but three candidates are running on the idea that the DA’s office needs change. Sinunu, as Kennedy’s right hand, is more or less a candidate of continuity. So why is everyone so circumspect about the Kennedy-Sinunu leadership? Tell us exactly how the system’s broke, so we know how you’re promising to fix it.

It wasn’t always like this. In his first run, many moons ago, George Kennedy treated us to expletives that reporters couldn’t print in their papers. And San Francisco DA Kamala Harris ran in 2003 with bold attacks on her predecessor, in a campaign with no shortage of bold attacks all around.

What do we get in 2006? Grade-school jeering — the occasional eye roll — and anonymous hit pieces that don’t quite carry the same punch as earlier campaign shenanigans.

Things looked more colorful last summer, during Judge Ron Del Pozzo’s four-week campaign. Shortly after being labeled a “bozo” on an Web site, the judge pulled out, saying his young daughter wasn’t “on board.”

Just when things had been getting interesting …

— Julie O’Shea

 

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