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California Attorney General Bonta clinches 4-year term

California Attorney General Rob Bonta spoke in favor of new gun control legislation at a press conference at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Feb. 18, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
California Attorney General Rob Bonta spoke in favor of new gun control legislation at a press conference at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Feb. 18, 2022.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a progressive reformer who was appointed last year and is the first Filipino to hold the job in any state, beat back a challenge from a Republican former federal prosecutor to capture a full four-year term.

Updated vote counts Wednesday showed Bonta with 57% in the race against Republican Nathan Hochman to be the state’s top law enforcement official.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association hailed Bonta as the first Filipino-American to hold the position in any U.S. state, and as “one of the most active attorneys general in the nation on everything from defending reproductive rights to promoting workers’ rights.”


Bonta said that role may expand if Republicans gain new influence at the federal level, and with former president Donald Trump signaling a run to regain the office in 2024. Bonta’s predecessor filed dozens of lawsuits challenging Trump administration initiatives, leading some to dub California “the “Resistance State.”

“What is next for our nation remains unknown, but what is known is that no matter what happens in Washington, D.C., no matter what radical Republicans try to throw our way in state houses, your Attorney General will go to court, sue, and fight back,” Bonta said Tuesday in prepared remarks.

Bonta, 50, was appointed more than midway through his predecessor’s four-year term, so he is eligible to run for two additional full terms. That could allow him to serve nearly 10 years in an office that already has given him a national stage on issues as diverse as abortion, climate change, gay rights and gun control.

The job has been a springboard for many of those who have held it.

Bonta took over when Xavier Becerra left to become the Biden administration’s health secretary, and Becerra succeeded Kamala Harris, who went on to the U.S. Senate and now is vice president. Edmund “Pat” Brown became governor, and his son, Jerry, won the post and then became governor again more than three decades after first holding the job. Earl Warren went on to become the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice.


Democrats again dominated in races for statewide offices in California, where they have 47% of registered voters to Republicans’ 24%, with another 23% of voters having no party preference.

Bonta prevailed despite attempts by Hochman to capitalize on voters’ frustration with rising crime and homelessness. He blamed Bonta for what he called the state’s “spiral of lawlessness,” but he had difficulty making his case to a statewide audience despite having a bigger campaign war chest than all but one other GOP statewide candidate.

Hochman did not immediately comment Wednesday on the results.