Gov. Jerry Brown has tapped House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) to be the next attorney general of California.
- He will succeed Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.
- He will lead the state’s looming court battles with Donald Trump over climate change, immigration and more.
- The office of attorney general is perhaps second only to the governor in power, with broad authority to file sweeping legal action and defend California law.
Becerra, who is highest-ranking Latino in Congress, would be the state’s first Latino attorney general!
Xavier Becerra, 58, born in Sacramento, earned a law degree from Stanford Law School and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University.
Becerra worked in the Civil Division of the attorney general’s office from 1987 to 1990 before entering Congress; and winning election to the House of Representatives.
Once there, he rose to become the highest ranking Latino member and was a strenuous advocate for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. His appointment makes him the state’s first Latino attorney general.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” Becerra said. “It means I get to be home a lot more.” He said in an interview Thursday morning he had always wanted to return to the office.
A vocal advocate for Hillary Clinton‘s presidential bid, Becerra was briefly floated as an option for vice president or a cabinet position. With Clinton’s loss Nov. 8 and no upward mobility available in House leadership, Becerra’s future political career was unclear.
Becerra must be confirmed by the state Senate and Assembly, both handily controlled by Democrats. Becerra, if confirmed, would be the first attorney general appointed by a governor since Thomas Lynch, who was tapped by former Gov. Pat Brown in 1964.
The choice will no doubt send political shock waves through California because Becerra was not on any of the widely circulated lists of picks. Before Nov. 8, the conventional wisdom had been that the governor would choose a caretaker, perhaps even a career staffer who would simply carry out the office’s functions through the 2018 elections.
His mother was born in Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated to the United States after marrying his father. In 1980, Rep. Becerra earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Stanford University. He was awarded his Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School in 1984. Rep. Becerra is married to Dr. Carolina Reyes. They are the proud parents of three daughters: Clarisa, Olivia and Natalia. Read more.
California’s state leaders, including Governor Jerry Brown, have promised to resist attempts by a Trump administration to alter state policies on climate change, organized labor and immigration.
Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organizing group, hailed Becerra’s appointment, saying, “California can – and should – be the tip of the spear for state-based resistance to Trump and the Republican party’s inhumane vision for our country.”
Anthony Rendon, California’s state assembly speaker, also hinted at the future court battles awaiting the Democratic party.
“Becerra clearly has the experience to step into this vital role,” Renden said in a statement. “Just as important, he has great tenacity and he respects the rights of all Californians – much-needed qualities for an attorney general given the troubling times ahead.”