Attorney General Xavier Becerra has launched his campaign for a full term in the job, a little more than two weeks after assuming the high-profile role as the state’s top cop.
Becerra, tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown in early January to serve the remainder of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ term as attorney general, waited until was sworn in on Jan. 24 to firmly say that he planned to run for the position in 2018. He took the job after serving 24 years in Congress representing a Los Angeles district.
He opened a campaign committee this week, and made his plans public early Thursday morning with an email to supporters and a message on social media.
“The stakes could not be higher,” he said in the message. “Only a few days after I took the oath of office as California attorney general, the White House began issuing unconstitutional and un-American executive orders that shouldn’t see the light of day... I want to fight for your rights from start to finish – until we put every dangerous idea and policy six feet under ground.”
Becerra takes over as deep-blue California is preparing to fight President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress over proposals they believe endanger state funding for health care and universities, undermine state climate change laws and threaten to strip sanctuary protections for undocumented immigrants. He has said he will act as a counterweight to Trump, promising to defend civil and immigrants’ rights, environmental protections, access to health care and more.
In his campaign message, Becerra, the first Latino to serve as state attorney general, noted his upbringing as the son of Mexican immigrants.
“We in California have the greatest opportunity of any state to prevent our nation from spiraling backwards to the days when homes were callously foreclosed, when women were charged more for health care and when my dad couldn’t walk into restaurants because of signs that read, ‘No dogs or Mexicans allowed,’” he said.
Becerra has strongly rebuked Trump’s executive actions. He has focused his criticism on orders that call for a crackdown on “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees and a temporary travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Twice this week he he joined 16 state attorneys general to file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of lawsuits challenging Trump’s travel restrictions.
Becerra, 59, already has roughly $1.5 million in campaign funds left over from his House campaign account.
So far he faces two challengers – state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, and San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, a Republican.
Jones, a former assemblyman from Sacramento who is termed out of the insurance post in 2018, had $797,000 cash on hand at the end of 2016 in his 2018 attorney general account. He also has $2.6 million left over from his 2014 re-election campaign.
Ramos has $32,000 cash on hand, campaign finance records show.
Donors to candidates’ past campaigns would be subject to state campaign contribution limits. The contribution limit for individual donors for the attorney general’s race is $7,300 per election.
Angela Hart: 916-326-5528, @ahartreports