LOS ANGELES — Attorney General Xavier Becerra is trying to hold onto his seat Tuesday in a battle with equally well-funded fellow Democrat and state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and two long-shot Republican lawyers.
Becerra, a longtime congressman appointed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the seat vacated when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate, has spent much of his time in office suing the Trump administration to halt or reverse policies that he says harm Californians.
His opponents charge that Becerra, the first Latino to hold the office, has neglected other priorities because of his obsession with the Republican president. Becerra has said he has done plenty of other work, such as cracking down on gangs and charity fraud.
Jones, the two-term insurance czar and former state assemblyman, is running to the left of Becerra, advocating for a single-payer health care system, an end to capital punishment and criminal justice reforms, such as more rehabilitation and mental illness and drug addiction treatment programs.
Given that both Democrats already hold statewide office, they are much better known and better funded than the two Republicans vying to be one of the top two vote-getters who advance to the general election in November.
Steven Bailey is a retired El Dorado County Superior Court judge. Eric Early is a Los Angeles attorney specializing in business, entertainment and real estate litigation.
Both Republicans oppose recent voter-approved initiatives that reduced criminal penalties and both support the death penalty. While Becerra is pushing to resume executions for the first time since 2006, he has personal reservations about the punishment.
Early has pledged to consider creating permanent facilities for people with mental illnesses to reduce violence and homelessness.
Early said Becerra "cares more about illegal immigrants who have come here and then broken the law" than tax-paying citizens.
Bailey, who is under investigation by the state's judicial watchdog for several alleged improprieties, including steering business to an electronic monitoring company where his son worked, has criticized the two Democrats for trying to end the money bail system. He said those with mental illness or drug addiction should get treatment instead of jail time.
Last week, Jones had $2.3 million in the bank and Becerra had $1.5 million. The Republicans trailed far behind.