Rep. Xavier Becerra
(D-Calif.) has been tapped to be California’s next attorney general, succeeding Kamala Harris, who was elected to the Senate last month.
California Gov. Jerry Brown nominated Becerra, the lawmaker said in a statement Thursday.
“Governor Brown has presented me with an opportunity I cannot refuse — to serve as Attorney General of my home state. As a former deputy attorney general, I relished the chance to be our state’s chief law enforcement officer to protect consumers, advance criminal justice reform and, of course, keep our families safe,” Becerra said.
Becerra is term-limited in his current post as House Democratic Caucus chairman, raising questions about the rising party star’s next move.
The highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, he was a prominent surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
and traveled to 15 states over the course of the 2016 campaign cycle.
Had Clinton won, Becerra likely would have been among her potential Cabinet picks. He reportedly was under consideration to be her running mate before Clinton ultimately chose Sen. Tim Kaine
The 12-term Congressman had just announced his bid this week to become the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee before the surprising announcement. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) stepped down from the position amid internal strife among House Democrats about whether top positions had become stagnant since the party doesn’t impose term limits on committee slots.
Becerra had been seen as a front-runner for the post. But his departure will smooth the way for Rep. Richard Neal (D) — who has represented Massachusetts since 1989 and lost his bid for the chairmanship to Levin in 2010 — to lead Democrats on the panel for what is expected to be a busy few years. Levin endorsed Neal to succeed him at the top of the Ways and Means Committee within minutes of Becerra’s announcement.
Becerra had occasionally clashed with fellow Democrats despite serving in leadership. Tensions boiled within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus earlier this year when Becerra disagreed with other members
over the best strategy for attacking Donald Trump
during the campaign.
Becerra was also the only member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who didn’t endorse Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) during her Senate race against Harris.
Another Hispanic Caucus member, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), issued ascathing statement
earlier this week in response to Becerra announcing his candidacy for the Ways and Means post.
Brown’s nomination of Becerra will be subject to confirmation by the California state Assembly and Senate. Becerra would be California’s second Hispanic statewide official, along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla.