Thank Donald Trump for making the job of California attorney general so important. The AG is the state’s top law enforcement official, chief counsel and it’s most serious advocate for consumers. He or she manages a staff of 4,500 lawyers specializing in everything from banking to organized crime to environmental law.
But when 3 million more Californians – and their nose-thumbing Democratic elected officials – voted for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump, the new president took it personally. Trump and the Republican Congress – including the Valley Californians – have put our state under almost constant attack. They’ve proposed opening our coasts to drilling for oil, they’ve sent ICE agents to our cities to round up undocumented workers buying their morning coffee, and they’ve tried to push our state health insurance exchange out of business.
The June 5 primary ballot offers two solid options in incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra and outgoing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Both are aggressive, have distinguished records, are committed to defending the state against federal overreach ...
Of course we’re going to gather our forces and fight back. That’s where the attorney general comes in. The June 5 primary ballot offers two solid options in incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra and outgoing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Both are aggressive, have distinguished records, are committed to defending the state against federal overreach and at least one already is doing that while performing other duties of the office.
There are others in the race, but only the top-two in June’s primary move on to the November election. Retired El Dorado County Judge Steven Bailey told The Sacramento Bee editorial board that, though he didn’t vote for Trump, he’s generally “pleased” with the direction of the administration. Los Angeles attorney Eric Early said he did vote for Trump, and enthusiastically backs him.
Even for voters who agree with Trump’s policies, we can’t recommend either. Early, who practices business and real estate law, seems unfamiliar with the AG’s role, focusing instead on budgetary decisions and the taxpayer costs of supporting undocumented immigrants and “others.” Bailey understands the job, but the district attorney in his own county, a fellow Republican, has not endorsed him. And he is under investigation by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for what he says are “partisan” misconduct charges. Sounds like he’s ready for a swim in the President’s swamp.
When Kamala Harris moved to the U.S. Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Becerra to fill her term. Since then, he has relentlessly defended the state against Trump’s attacks, usually by filing lawsuits some of which were joined by others states. The state has more than 30 lawsuits pending against the administration. Becerra has also taken strong stands closer to home, suing Sutter Health for allegedly driving up healthcare prices and launching investigations into alleged police misconduct.
A 24-year member of congress, Becerra has veered dangerously close toward politicizing the office. Jones has criticized him, fairly, for stacking his staff with Washington hands, including chief of operations Amanda Renteria – a Clinton campaign operative running for governor. And Becerra got caught using partisan language to write the summary for the GOP initiative to repeal Brown’s hard-won gas tax.
Jones has served in the Assembly and was a special assistant to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. He has been an effective consumer advocate as insurance commissioner, and has pushed good legislation to protect policyholders reeling from natural disasters.
But Jones’ experience is more at the state level, while Becerra has national stature – which matters. Both are clearly qualified candidates. Hopefully, we’ll get to choose between them in November.