The game of musical chairs prompted by Joe Biden’s electoral victory is drawing to a close as Gov. Gavin Newsom decides who will replace California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who’s awaiting the U.S. Senate confirmation as the president’s Health and Human Services Secretary.
About a dozen people are jockeying for the role, including two Silicon Valley figures with differing views about how to tackle criminal justice reform.
Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) has the backing of several prominent public defenders, who believe he’d use the position to overhaul a carceral system that’s locked up more people than any other state besides Texas.
Though Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen, through a spokesman, denied angling for the AG spot when Fly inquired about it a couple months back, his name has since emerged as a more traditional prosecutorial contender. Sources tell Fly that Rosen’s been making calls to a number of powerbrokers to garner support, including one of the Bay Area’s most infamous ex mayors.
Of course, the same diversity concerns that influenced Newsom’s picks for Vice President Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate seat and Alex Padilla’s Secretary of State post factor into his decision about who to make the next AG. As one of the litigators Rosen solicited for support told Fly, that puts Rosen, who’s white, at a demographic disadvantage.
“But hope springs eternal, I guess,” the attorney remarked in a recent phone call.
Other names being bandied about include Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), who’s endorsed by Asian-Pacific Islander groups, labor and criminal justice reformers.
A more strategic choice might be state Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, whose departure from the bench would give Newsom yet another high-profile vacancy to fill.