Steve Cooley is the first three-term district attorney in Los Angeles in nearly 70 years, and he has earned his retirement. By deciding to end his political career at the end of his current term, Mr. Cooley closes the door on a public service career just shy of four decades long.

Cooley has become a force both in Los Angeles criminal justice service and the Los Angeles political landscape. Half a dozen people were already jockeying for his job, but all said they would drop out of the race if he decided to run for another term. But at 65 years old, he seems to have had enough. In his departure, he has endorsed his #2 in command to be his replacement. But with Cooley gone, the race for district attorney will be hotly contested.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Tuesday that he would not run for a fourth term as the county’s top prosecutor, ending intense speculation and setting the stage for the most competitive district attorney’s race in more than a decade.

Cooley had remained coy for months about his political future and his decision promises to have a dramatic effect on the 2012 election campaign, which features several candidates who had promised to pull out if Cooley ran again.

Cooley told The Times that many of his law enforcement supporters encouraged him to seek reelection but that he decided instead to help Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Jacquelyn Lacey in her bid to become the first African American and first woman to hold the post.

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