LOS ANGELES (AP) — Attorney General Xavier Becerra won his primary fight Tuesday to defend the job he was appointed to last year and a retired Republican judge was leading the other two contenders in the race to challenge him in the fall.
With more than 2 million votes counted, Becerra, a Democrat, had about 44 percent of the vote while retired Judge Steven Bailey had about 27 percent in the four-way race.
Becerra, a longtime congressman, was appointed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the seat vacated when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. He has spent much of his time in office suing the Trump administration to halt or reverse policies he says harm Californians.
His opponents charged that Becerra, the first Latino to hold the office, neglected other priorities because of his obsession with the Republican president. Becerra said he’s done plenty of other work, such as cracking down on gangs and charity fraud.
With more than 2 million votes counted, Republican attorney Eric Early and Democrat Dave Jones, who is the state insurance commissioner, trailed far behind.
Both Republicans opposed 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 penalty. Jones vowed to end capital punishment.
Bailey, a former El Dorado County Superior Court judge, 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.
Bailey 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.
Early, a Los Angeles attorney specializing in business, entertainment and real estate litigation, 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.
Jones, the two-term insurance czar and former state assemblyman, ran to the left of Becerra, advocating for a single-payer health care system and criminal justice reforms such as more rehabilitation and mental illness and drug addiction treatment programs.
The top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November.
With about a week remaining in the primary campaign, Jones had $2.3 million in the bank and Becerra had $1.5 million. The Republicans were far behind.