Crime was a much-discussed issue in this year’s primary elections, and it could be a factor in the November runoff for California attorney general, too.
While conservative hopefuls trailed Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta in the primary, who won with 54.5%, collectively they garnered nearly 43% of Tuesday’s vote.
Bonta, who was appointed to the position in March 2021, after his predecessor, Xavier Becerra, became the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, is seeking election to his first full term in office.
Nathan Hochman won 18.5%, beating Eric Early, who got 16.8%. Independent candidate Anne Marie Schubert had 7.5%, and Green Party candidate Dan Kapelovitz had just 2.5%.
Bonta, the state’s first Filipino attorney general, was known for his criminal justice reform platform as a state Assemblymember. Now he is facing a conservative Republican candidate who could pick up major support from two of the other losing candidates. Republicans hope they can finally win back a major state office for the first time since 2006.
Hochman, a former assistant U.S. Attorney General, won the endorsement of the Republican Party in the race, over Early, an attorney.
Schubert, the current Sacramento County District Attorney, had the support of several law enforcement groups in the state, but running as an independent didn’t help her.
California’s attorney general is often considered the second most powerful statewide office, and is responsible for seeing that criminal and civil laws are enforced. That includes taking on federal policies — as attorney general, Becerra sued then-President Trump more than 100 times.
The position is often a springboard for higher office. Earl Warren, Pat Brown, George Deukmejian and Jerry Brown were all California attorneys general who went on to become governor. Warren also became U.S. Supreme Court chief justice. Kamala Harris won a U.S. Senate seat as attorney general, and now is vice president.
Elections officials have 30 days to process and verify all ballots received. The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday that election results will be finalized by July 15.