It’s often said that losing the 1998 San Jose City Council race to Cindy Chavez was the best thing to happen to Tony West, an attorney whose resume already boasted positions under President Bill Clinton’s DOJ, the Northern District of California and then-California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
A decade after his bid for local office, the prominent African-American litigator went from co-chairing Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign to serving as the administration’s assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Division.
As California AG Xavier Becerra joins Joe Biden’s cabinet as head of Health and Human Services, West—who’s currently Uber’s top legal officer—is now being floated as a potential successor for the state’s prosecutor-in-chief.
West won high praise in a USA Today op-ed penned by Ben Crump, attorney for families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Should Gov. Gavin Newsom tap the Bellarmine-, Harvard- and Stanford-educated West as AG, the appointment could appear a little dynastic given West’s marriage to former California AG and VP-elect Kamala Harris’ sister, Maya Harris. But as a person of color, he’s a strong candidate given the intense public pressure on Gavin to bestow the position on someone who represents California’s diversity.
Though his name hasn’t come up in any speculative reports about who will fill Becerra’s shoes, Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen raised the prospect himself on his political website: “Would you accept a position in the Biden Administration or perhaps as Attorney General?” The answer to his own question, he wrote, is “yes.”
As a white male elected prosecutor in a nation where 95 percent of elected prosecutors are white and male, however, it’s unlikely Newsom will give him much thought.