Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is trailing behind Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta and two Republicans in the race for the state attorney general, according to an early tally of votes Tuesday night.
In a state that leans heavily Democratic, Bonta was expected to easily secure the top spot during the primary, despite facing some recent pressure related to the public smoke of increased crime.
But it was the fight for a second place finish that’s made the race for attorney general one of the state’s most competitive this year, as the top two vote-getters would ultimately move on to the November election.
Bonta had captured about 52.9% of the vote as of 8:10 pm Tuesday night, while Republican Nathan Hochman, a former US assistant attorney general, had captured about 25% of the vote.
Eric Early, a Los Angeles-based business and entertainment lawyer, captured 12.9% of the vote; Schubert captured 7.5% of the vote; Green Party candidate Dan Kapelovitz, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense and animal rights attorney, captured 1.7% of the vote.
Schubert, elected as Sacramento County’s district attorney in 2014, had been a lifelong Republican until four years ago, when she won her second term and changed her registration to “no party preference.”
That led to her gamble that she could win statewide office as a nonpartisan candidate running against an appointed Democratic attorney general in Bonta. Two lesser-known Republicans and a Green Party candidate later joined the race.
Schubert’s political gamble
Schubert had been setting the stage as a tough-on-crime candidate since last year, when she led dozens of district attorneys in suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation over good conduct credit changes that she said would lead to the early release of 76,000 state inmates.
Schubert had strong support from law enforcement officials and statewide unions, and became well known in recent years for leading the investigation of the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist case that led to the prosecution in Sacramento of Joseph James DeAngelo.
Her office’s groundbreaking work on DNA evidence and genetic genealogy led to numerous prosecutions, including the conviction of NorCal Rapist Roy Charles Waller.
She also led the statewide investigation into California’s unemployment insurance scandal that cost the state billions of dollars in fraudulent claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But her decision to run for attorney general as an independent candidate represented a huge political risk.
No candidate has won statewide elective office in California in the modern era, and some questioned whether she was well known enough to place among the top-two vote-getters in the primary. As Election Day neared, a statewide poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley showed her trailing Democrat Bonta and both Republican candidates.
She banked on public dissatisfaction with crime rates and criticism of two liberal DAs — San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin and Los Angeles’ George Gascon — to bolster her claim to being the tough on crime candidate California needed.
And she touted her support from crime victims groups and her focus on the fentanyl epidemic, growing problems from homelessness and her criticism of California’s prison system for what she called “early releases” of inmates to win her enough votes to advance to the November general election .
Bonta ahead in blue state
The path to victory for any challenger against Bonta will be difficult in November.
Nearly half of voters in California are registered Democrats, and roughly 23% are registered no party preference. The state has not elected a Republican attorney general since 1995.
Hochman, a former federal prosecutor, is viewed as a more establishment candidate with a wellspring of conservative backers, is a former federal prosecutor. He also served as assistant US attorney for the Central District of California’s criminal division for seven years.
Hochman has worked both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, overseeing cases ranging from tax evasion and money laundering, to drug trafficking and gang gang. Touting his decades of experience, he has vowed to reduce crime rates in California.
Among Hochman’s key agenda items is going after fentanyl dealers and human traffickers more aggressively, and supporting court-mandated treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and severe mental health issues to address homelessness. He is also critical of Proposition 47, approved by voters in 2014, which reduced penalties for some non-violent drug and theft offenses.
This story was originally published June 7, 2022 8:16 PM.