Thursday, June 19, 2008

Democrats set sights on Oakland County prosecutor job

Democrats set sights on Oakland County prosecutor jobBY L.L. BRASIER • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • June 19, 2008

It's an office that often has garnered the region's attention.

And those who have held the seat have sometimes made national headlines: Richard Thompson prosecuting Jack Kevorkian, current prosecutor David Gorcyca bringing charges against Nathaniel Abraham.

Now, with Gorcyca deciding not to run for re-election, the Oakland County prosecutor seat is open for the first time since 1968. And Democrats are hoping to regain the office after 35 years of GOP control, opening their wallets and pinning their hopes on Jessica Cooper, a former judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals and a ferocious campaigner. She's an early favorite and has handily won six of seven elections since she first became a district court judge in 1979.

The Republicans admit that this is the year to be worried, particularly with an open seat where no Republican holds the advantage of an incumbency. In prior years, Oakland County has been such a Republican stronghold that Democrats usually produced only sacrificial candidates who lost by double-digit margins.

"We're worried not over the strength of the Democratic candidate as much as the phenomenal impact that Barack Obama appears to have," said L. Brooks Patterson, county executive and the godfather of Oakland County Republicanism. "When he gets 75,000 to come out for him in Portland, that's the stuff that scares us politically."

The Democrats "have more fire in the belly, and it's going to reverberate down through the ticket," Patterson said. "Local candidates can benefit from that level of enthusiasm. Yes, so we've got some tough races ahead."

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