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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Skelton: Considered one of these contenders might be Newsom’s AG decide

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Gov. Gavin Newsom can’t delay for much longer. He wants to decide on a brand new California legal professional common.

And it’s a wild guess who he’ll decide, as a result of he apparently hasn’t been speaking. So, no leaks.

Newsom stored saying he wouldn’t title a substitute for Xavier Becerra — as California regulation requires — till the U.S. Senate confirmed Becerra as the first Latino secretary of Health and Human Services. Honest sufficient.

However that occurred Thursday, when the Democrat was confirmed on a razor-thin vote, 50 to 49.

The Democrat Newsom selects will land in a major place to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in 2024, assuming she doesn’t search reelection at age 91. Or the appointee may run for governor in 2026, when Newsom’s second time period expires, assuming he beats this yr’s recall effort and is reelected in 2022. All these assumptions are fairly good bets.

This stepping-stone state of affairs particularly applies to 1 or two of the contenders: Actually high-profile U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, and doubtless additionally Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a former state Senate chief.

4 attorneys common in trendy instances have used the job as a springboard to the governor’s workplace: Jerry Brown, George Deukmejian, Pat Brown and Earl Warren. And as legal professional common, Becerra caught the attention of President Biden, who pulled him into his Cupboard.

Newsom most likely determined weeks in the past who he favored to interchange Becerra, however shut aides swear he stored mum.

A number of Democrats have been speculated about. Right here’s how I handicap them.

Schiff, 60: The heavyweight of the sphere, the one with star energy.

He’s the strongest politically, by far the perfect recognized amongst voters. And Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been lobbying Newsom to nominate him.

Schiff first grew to become a family title because the rating Democrat on the Home Intelligence Committee when it delved into Russian meddling within the 2016 elections. His profile grew as lead supervisor within the first impeachment trial of President Trump.

A former assistant U.S. legal professional and state legislator, he has been a congressman for 20 years and is a prolific political fundraiser.

However Schiff is handicapped by being a white male at a time when Newsom is beneath stress to nominate individuals of coloration to high posts. The governor has executed rather a lot already.

He selected Alex Padilla to be California’s first Latino U.S. senator, changing Vice President Kamala Harris. Then he chosen Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego to be the primary Black secretary of state, changing Padilla. Final week, he pledged to nominate a Black girl to interchange Feinstein if she retires earlier than her time period expires — exhibiting inconsideration for his longtime San Francisco good friend.

However there’s one other drawback for Schiff: He and Newsom barely know one another. Newsom additionally may concern him as a possible rival.

Nonetheless, Schiff can be a top quality, top-drawer decide.

Steinberg, 61: Loyal, skilled, energetic and likable.

He’s a coverage wonk and sensible politician who is aware of state authorities and politics in and out.

He’s additionally one other white male. However Steinberg is a longtime Newsom ally who has labored intently with the governor on homelessness.

Like Schiff, Steinberg’s regulation enforcement expertise is proscribed. He was an employee-rights legal professional and administrative regulation choose earlier than getting into politics.

Steinberg could also be greatest recognized for sponsoring the poll initiative that socked million-dollar earners with a 1-percentage-point earnings tax improve to fund psychological well being packages, his No. 1 trigger.

As Senate president professional tem for six years, Steinberg was one of many higher, more practical legislative leaders in current many years. If he has a fault, it’s one he shares with Newsom: making an attempt to do an excessive amount of.

Steinberg can be a secure, strong alternative.

Santa Clara County Dist. Atty. Jeff Rosen, 53: Essentially the most skilled prosecutor of the bunch by far.

Rosen has been convicting murderers, rapists and little one molesters in Santa Clara County for 25 years, the final 10 as district legal professional. He runs the most important prosecutor’s workplace north of Los Angeles.

He’s a sleeper within the contest, not near Newsom, however a social justice soulmate of the governor. Rosen has pushed modifications that embrace tighter reins on police misconduct, the tip of money bail and abolishment of capital punishment. He used to assist the loss of life penalty however turned in opposition to it for all of the acquainted causes.

Rosen’s choice can be a shock. However it might make whole sense.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, 48, of Alameda: A favourite of Democratic progressives and strongly pushed by Asian American groups.

He apparently has at all times been on Newsom’s shortlist.

The primary Filipino American California legislator, Bonta has been an efficient lawmaker — a group participant — however by no means thought of a heavyweight. He has sponsored a number of penal and police reforms backed by Newsom.

He’s little recognized exterior his Meeting district, nevertheless, and will battle to win reelection subsequent yr, a main requisite of any appointee.

Contra Costa County Dist. Atty. Diana Becton, 69: One other favourite of Democratic progressives.

Becton, who’s Black, was a Superior Court docket choose for 22 years and has been a district legal professional for beneath 4.

I questioned whether or not Newsom had handed on Becton when he promised to decide on a Black girl to interchange Feinstein if that job opens up. It appeared he was making an attempt to mitigate any disappointment over his pending legal professional common choice.

Additionally speculated about by pundits are state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Equality California Director Rick Chavez Zbur — lobbied laborious for by Latino and LGBTQ teams, respectively — in addition to state Supreme Court docket Justice Goodwin H. Liu. They’re thought of lengthy photographs.

OK, governor, let’s hear from you.

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