The Sacramento Bee
Who should be California’s next attorney general?
It’s the final seat left open in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political chessboard after selecting Secretary of State Alex Padilla for the Senate and, hours later, tapping Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to take over as the state’s top elections official.
Current Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been called up to serve as Joe Biden’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Becerra has yet to undergo a confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, but that hasn’t stopped Californians from speculating on who should take his seat.
Support has been mounting for Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, who has served in the Assembly since 2012 and represents Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. He was California’s first Filipino state legislator, and would be the first Filipino attorney general. He’s already received a swath of endorsements from Asian-Pacific Islander groups, and more are expected to back Bonta during a virtual statewide coalition kickoff Wednesday morning.
Backers say Bonta has a “bold and progressive track record” advancing criminal justice reform in the Legislature, and would be a historic pick during a challenging time.
On Tuesday, the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus called on Newsom to appoint an LGBTQ+ person to the role, specifically, either Rick Chavez Zbur or State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.
Zbur, a civil rights leader who serves as a board member of Planned Parenthood LA, has spent his life fighting for equality and justice, the caucus said in a letter to Newsom. Zbur holds degress from Yale and Harvard, and was the first openly gay partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins. He would be the first openly LGBTQ+ person and first openly gay Latino to serve as California Attorney General.
“Growing up in a low-income farming community, Mr. Zbur knows firsthand the importance of economic justice for working families and our state’s most vulnerable residents,” the caucus said. “He would prioritize justice for our environment and the communities most impacted by pollution and climate change. He also has a proven track record advocating for criminal justice reforms and gun safety.”
Wiener also graduated from Harvard Law and spent 15 years as Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. He has served in numerous LGBTQ+ organizations, including sitting on the national board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.
He has received “legislator of the year” awards for his work reforming California’s criminal justice system, and has been recognized for his work on housing. IF appointed, Wiener would be the first openly LGBTQ+ person and the first openly gay Jewish person to serve as attorney general.
Those aren’t the only names being floated as candidates for the job. Everyone has an idea of who they want to see in the seat, and the only real requirement is passing the California bar exam. The California Latino Legislative Caucus last month proposed four Latina women as prospective picks, including Sen. Anna Caballero, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes and former Sen. Martha Escutia.