California Gov. Jerry Brown taps Xavier Becerra as state's attorney general

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (L) speaks as Congressional Caucus Chair Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) (R) looks on during a news conference with and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) (L) October 23, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 

Alex Wong, Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown has chosen Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-California) to become the state’s next attorney general, Becerra said Thursday.

“Governor Brown has presented me with an opportunity I cannot refuse -- to serve as Attorney General of my home state,” he said in a statement. “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 will succeed Kamala Harris, the state’s current attorney general, who was elected to the Senate last month and takes office in January. The 12-term congressman is the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, and will become the first Latino to serve as California’s attorney general.

The news is a surprise to California political observers, none of whom expected Brown to pick Becerra for the role. It also scrambles the political landscape ahead of what’s expected to be a highly contested race to succeed Brown as governor in 2018.

Becerra, a strong supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a frequent campaign trail presence for her, was mentioned as a potential vice presidential choice or a Cabinet possibility -- opportunities that did not materialize after Clinton’s loss last month.

Now that Brown has nominated Becerra, he will need to be confirmed by the California state Senate and the state Assembly. Democrats have large majorities in both chambers.

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.