SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday appointed Los Angeles Democrat and 12-term U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra to state attorney general, replacing Kamala Harris who was elected to the Senate in November.
If the appointment is confirmed by the state’s Democratic-led Legislature, Becerra would serve through at least 2018 and become the state’s first Latino attorney general.
Becerra, 58, was a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He’s the highest-ranking Latino congressman and was rumored to be up for a cabinet position during Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
“It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve my fellow Californians in Congress for the past 24 years, fighting for working families like my parents, and I look forward to continuing that battle as California’s attorney general,” Becerra said in a statement.
Brown made the first attorney general appointment by a California governor in over five decades after voters elected Harris to the Senate on Nov. 8. Brown’s father, Gov. Pat Brown, appointed Thomas Lynch in 1964.
Brown said Becerra, who served as the state’s deputy attorney general in the 1980s, has been an “outstanding public servant.”
“I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change,” Brown said in a statement.
Becerra was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning an economics degree from Stanford and then a law degree from Stanford Law School. He served in the state Assembly from 1990 to 1992 before being elected to Congress.
“Gov. Brown has presented me with an opportunity I cannot refuse – to serve as attorney general of my home state. As a former deputy attorney general, I relished the chance to be our state’s chief law enforcement officer to protect consumers, advance criminal justice reform and, of course, keep our families safe,” Becerra said of his nomination.