Endorsement: Rob Bonta has earned a full term as California attorney general

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta is up for election to a full four-year term after having been appointed to fill a vacancy.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Rob Bonta was appointed California attorney general barely a year ago by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill a vacancy left by the departure of Xavier Becerra to become U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. Because Bonta was not elected, because his record in one of the state’s most important positions is short, and because he is serving at a time of increasing crime and pushback against the state’s historic criminal justice reforms, there is more motivation than in most election years to seriously study whether a challenger might be a better fit for the office.

But an extensive examination of the five candidates, their records, their positions and their statements makes it abundantly clear: Bonta is the right choice. He should be elected to a full term as attorney general. He has shown a commitment and an ability to effectively enforce laws that Californians have adopted, either directly by ballot or through their elected representatives. By contrast, the three leading challengers want to undermine or overturn many of those same laws — a dangerous stance for candidates seeking to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.

Bonta’s brief tenure has been solid so far. In the midst of California’s housing affordability and availability crisis, he has stood firm against cities resisting laws requiring them to make space for more residents. For example, he called out Pasadena for its ploy to restrict multifamily housing in broad swaths of the city, and similarly warned Woodside to drop its plan to designate the entire city as a supposed mountain lion sanctuary.


He’s been strong on environmental protection as well — for example, by investigating fossil fuel companies for their role in exacerbating a plastic pollution crisis that is so pervasive that microplastics have been detected in human blood.

Here are the L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, LAUSD, superior court, statewide offices, the state legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

April 27, 2022

At a time when the right of a woman to choose whether to end her pregnancy is in jeopardy in much of the nation, Bonta has made clear he will protect women’s rights in this state. After two women in Kings County who used illegal drugs were prosecuted and imprisoned for murder after their stillbirths, Bonta corrected district attorneys on their interpretation of the law. “Pregnant individuals will be protected by the law, not criminalized by it,” Bonta said.

But the attorney general’s job is best known for its role in the criminal justice system. The AG is in essence the captain of a team that includes county sheriffs, district attorneys and police chiefs. Unfortunately, much of the work these days involves debunking the many false claims that police and prosecutors make about crime and safety. If performed properly, the job should promote reforms in the interests of justice.

Bonta is clearly pro-reform, as evidenced by the bills he sponsored as a member of the state Assembly. But he is particularly impressive because he tempers his ideology with a healthy dose of pragmatism. For example, asked by The Times’ editorial board about the omission of domestic violence from the list of violent crimes ineligible for release credits or parole under Proposition 57 — a 2016 ballot measure to expand inmates’ ability to seek parole — Bonta agreed that the issue required examination. At this point he has offered only words, though, and we’re looking forward to the follow-through.

California needs a fiscal watchdog who is independent from the party in power.

April 21, 2022

Four people are challenging Bonta in the June 7 primary. Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert is a Republican-turned-independent who has positioned herself as a vigorous opponent of most of California’s landmark criminal justice reforms. Her statements blaming those reforms for increases in crime that began during the pandemic — for example, her false statements that Proposition 47 is responsible for so-called smash-and-grab armed robberies — mislead and frighten Californians who instead deserve an attorney general who provides fact-based guidance.

Schubert’s election would strike a blow on behalf of a rollback movement long supported by many law enforcement organizations but so far has been wisely rejected by California voters. Judging from her rhetoric, it seems as if she believes she’s running against her counterparts, L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón and San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin.


Former federal prosecutor Nathan Hochman and attorney Eric Early, both Los Angeles Republicans, are if anything more extreme than Schubert. It is particularly troubling that Early expresses a lack of confidence in the integrity of the 2020 presidential election but can cite no persuasive evidence of misfeasance. Hochman won’t say whom he supported in that race.

Early was counsel to the Newsom recall campaign and ran unsuccessfully against Becerra in 2018 and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) in 2020. Green Party candidate Dan Kapelovitz, a Los Angeles attorney, was a candidate in the Newsom recall.

In this race, Bonta is far and away the best choice. He’s the one candidate of the bunch prepared to uphold and defend the laws that Californians have repeatedly supported.

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