LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Los Angeles County District Attorney conceded today in the race for state attorney general, as updated vote tallies continued to widen San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ lead.

“While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for attorney general,” Cooley said.

“Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California’s next attorney general.”

Cooley called Harris this morning to concede the race, according to his campaign consultant, Kevin Spillane.

Cooley did not participate in a morning conference call with reporters, but said in a statement released by his campaign that “it is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan, non-politician could not overcome the increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach.”

Cooley ran a “very strong race,” despite a “Republican collapse of the ticket” and a “Democratic tidal wave” in California, Spillane said.

Cooley’s campaign consultant said the “margin is just too great” with the votes that remain to be counted. He said Cooley will not be seeking a recount of the ballots, which would be expensive and “overly divisive.”

Cooley said he intends to continue his work as Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor–a term that ends in 2012.

Harris will hold a news conference on Tuesday–the deadline for counties to report final counts to the Secretary of State, according to her campaign manager, Brian Brokaw.

“The counties continue to tabulate votes, and District Attorney Harris believes it is only appropriate to wait until all the votes are counted before making a public declaration,” Brokaw said.

According to the latest tally of votes released Tuesday, Harris was ahead of Cooley by 53,764 votes, with an estimated 154,806 ballots remaining unprocessed.

Cooley, a Republican, would need to receive about two-thirds of the remaining ballots to overtake Harris, a Democrat.

Of the unprocessed ballots, 59,109 are vote-by-mail ballots, 85,863 are provisional ballots and 9,834 are either damaged, could not be machine-read and need to be remade or ballots diverted by optical scanners for further review, Harris had 4,362,484 votes to Cooley’s 4,308,720, or 46 percent versus 45.5 percent. Harris has led since Nov. 12. Cooley had led from from Nov. 5
until Nov. 12.

When polls closed Nov. 2, Cooley declared victory, but by early Nov. 3, Harris led by almost 15,000 votes.

Under state law, county registrars of voters must complete the vote counting by Tuesday and provide their counts to the Secretary of State’s Office by Dec. 3.

Of California’s 58 counties, 42 have completed their counts.

Harris is the first black person and the first woman elected as California’s attorney general.

By Terri Vermeulen Keith | City News Service