Rep. Adam Schiff, the powerful Los Angeles Congressman and House Intel Committee chair who became the face of the first Trump impeachment as its lead manager, wants Governor Gavin Newsom to appointment him as the next Attorney General of California, Axios reports.
Should Newsom select Schiff to replace current AG Xavier Becerra upon his expected Senate confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, it will help position Schiff to run for 87-year-old Senator Diane Feinstein’s seat, should she decline to seek reelection in 2024. But it would be a mighty blow to House Democrats, who lead that chamber by just ten votes.
And even though it’s a very safe bet that the 28th Congressional District—which includes parts of L.A., Glendale, and Burbank—would elect a fellow Democrat as Schiff’s successor, it could take about six months for a special election to fill that seat.
A Schiff promotion would also deprive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of a trusted and influential confidant, and yet Pelosi is actively lobbying Newsom on his behalf, three people familiar with the situation tell Politico.
On the plus side for Newsom, Schiff is a national figure who has a knack for headlines, like when he said on ABC’s This Week that GOP Senators had left the country “nauseated” during Impeachment One. And as Newsom faces his own popularity issues, Schiff’s favorability among Democrats has grown so much in recent years that it’s made him one of the most successful fundraisers in the party. From the beginning of 2019 through last August, he raised a combined $22 million for his campaign, Joe Biden’s presidential bid, and other Democratic causes, compared to the 2016 cycle, in which he brought in a mere $1 million.
Still, Newsom is keeping his cards so close to the vest that even his inner circle isn’t sure who he’ll pick, and Schiff may not be their first choice. Former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla made history as the first Hispanic U.S. Senator when Newsom chose him replace Kamala Harris. Shirley Weber then became California’s first Black Secretary of State when Newsom appointed her to Padilla’s old job.
Now, according to Politico, some Newsom advisors are pushing for him to tap state assemblyman Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American state legislator and the son of Central Valley farm labor organizers, who went on to become a San Francisco city attorney with a law degree from Yale.
Another likely frontrunner for the appointment is Rick Chavez Zbur, director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California.
Bill Carrick, a California political strategist, says it’s all just a guessing game at this point.
“It’s pretty clear that there are advocates for their favorites,” he tells Axios. “But it’s not clear that that will have any influence on the one person who will make the decision: Gov. Gavin Newsom.”