Rep. Adam Schiff won’t become California’s next attorney general, sources familiar with the talks told POLITICO.
Governor Gavin Newsom has voted against the appointment of the Los Angeles area congressman as head of state law enforcement. This post was recently vacated by Xavier Becerra when he was confirmed as Head of the Ministry of Health and Human Services. It is not yet known who Newsom has selected for the AG role, although a formal announcement is expected shortly.
Schiff was looking for the job with the blessings of powerful Democrats in Washington, including the Speaker of Parliament Nancy Pelosi. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a former prosecutor who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff had aggressively used Newsom to nominate him to what has historically been a stepping stone to the governorship or Senate.
Schiff’s office declined to comment.
Newsom, threatened with a recall for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has spent months keeping its own advice on filling the AG job. According to aides and advisers to the governor and top contenders, he has conducted many of his own screening of potential candidates and has kept vigorous outside lobbying at bay.
Others believed to be in the running include California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, who was previously married to former Newsom Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary; and State Assembly member Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American legislator and child of Central Valley Farm Workers’ organizers to graduate from Yale law school. Asiatic-American and Pacific islander community leaders recently pushed Liu and Bonta again as hate crime became a major national problem, particularly after the Atlanta shooting last week.
Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California; Rep. Ted Lieu and Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen were also approached for the job at different times. POLITICO reported on Tuesday Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a former Senate President, was informed that he would not be the AG’s choice.
Zbur was also told that he would not get the AG job, a source with knowledge of the conversation told POLITICO on Wednesday. State Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) who was endorsed by other state lawmakers and Latino advocates, also learned that she will not be nominated, sources told POLITICO.
The case for Schiff was that he is a national figure with frequent TV exposure and a record for a powerhouses fundraiser. But the people around the governor always thought he was a long shot for the AG appearance.
“The thing with Gavin is this Nancy [Pelosi] is probably the most important political person in his life, ”said a Newsom confidante. “She encouraged the ship thing. But it just would never happen. They were never close, he and Schiff. We never sat down with him when we were in DC. ”
While Schiff’s public presence has declined significantly in the last few months following the conclusion of the Russia investigation and the first impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump, he has often been cited as a potential candidate for House Speaker (or Democratic Leader) when Pelosi leaves , or as a California Senator if there is a vacancy. Newsom named Alex Padilla last month to fill the Senate seat of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Newsom stated during an MSNBC interview earlier this month that it would nominate a black woman to fill Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat if she retires before her term ends in 2024 and Newsom remains in office until then . This proclamation seemed to block Schiff that road.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.