Governor Gavin Newsom has selected Rob Bonta, an Assemblymember representing the East Bay, to become California Attorney General. Bonta, a criminal justice reform advocate with a reputation as a progressive, will be the first Filipino-American to assume the role, and only the second Attorney General of AAPI descent, following Kamala Harris.
Described by The New York Times as a “loyal political ally” to Newsom, Bonta has been discussed frequently in recent weeks as a front-runner to replace Xavier Becerra, who vacated the Attorney General job to become Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration. Representatives Adam Schiff and Ted Lieu, and Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg were also among those rumored to be under consideration.
.@RobBonta will make history as the 1st CA Filipino Attorney General.
He represents what makes CA great–taking on righteous fights & reversing injustices.
In this moment of sickening attacks on AAPI Californians there's no one better to defend CA values pic.twitter.com/Y3T1zdG5dK
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 24, 2021
Bonta was born in the Philippines and grew up in California’s Central Valley. His parents were farm workers and organizers for civil and labor rights. Since joining the California State Assembly in 2012, he has been vocal on issues including ending cash bail, phasing out private prisons, and banning the death penalty. He also supported a law that would require the Attorney General’s office to provide an investigation into every fatal shooting of an unarmed civilian by a police officer.
Gina Clayton-Johnson, executive director of the Essie Justice Group, an organization that addresses prison reform, was among Bonta’s supporters for the job. She told the AP that, “He is someone who will listen and take my calls and respond to my and my community.”
“Rob represents what makes California great–our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “Most importantly, at this moment when so many communities are under attack for who they are and who they love, Rob has fought to strengthen hate crime laws and protect our communities from the forces of hate.”
The appointment is subject to confirmation by the State Assembly and State Senate. If confirmed, Bonta will be up for reelection in 2022.