Rep. Xavier Becerra appears on track to become California’s next attorney general, though the Los Angeles Democrat was opposed last week by Santa Clarita’s Assemblyman, Dante Acosta, and is likely to get another thumbs-down from state Sen. Scott Wilk.
“In researching the nominee’s record in Congress it became clear that his history on both public safety, and particularly veteran issues, was a problem,’’ Acosta, a Republican from the 38th Assembly District, said Friday in a statement.
“I could not in good conscience vote to support those beliefs and vote for Mr. Becerra as the top law enforcement official in the state.”
Still, Becerra’s nomination for AG – he would succeed Kamala Harris, who won a U.S. Senate seat in November – seems a fait accompli.
Despite the ‘‘no” vote by Acosta and all but one of his fellow Republicans in the Assembly on Friday, Becerra’s move into the AG’s job passed the Legislature’s lower house by a 56-23 vote.
The state Senate is expected to vote on the nomination this week. That would be the final hurdle.
In nominating Becerra — a 12-term congressman, former Assemblyman and former deputy attorney general — Gov. Jerry Brown indicated he would be a fire wall, of sorts, against policies of the incoming Trump administration, particularly in regards to climate change, immigration and civil rights.
“Xavier has been an outstanding public servant — in the State Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general,” Brown said in a statement in December, when he first nominated Becerra.
“I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”
Acosta did not return a call Monday to elaborate, but in his Friday statement said his opposition was based on Becerra’s Congressional “record of voting against our veterans’ interests.’’
“Most concerning,’’ Acosta’s statement said, is that Becerra “refused to hold employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs personally accountable for misconduct.”
“My vote against confirmation was to send the message that we must stand together in support of our veteran community.”
In the upcoming Senate vote, the Santa Clarita-area legislators are Wilk, a Republican of the 21st District, and Henry Stern, a Democrat from the 27th.
Democrats hold a 27-13 majority, and the Becerra vote is expected to adhere to party lines.
Reached Monday, Wilk said, “I’m probably going to vote ‘no,’ from everything I’ve read, but I’m going to be asking questions (in the coming days).”
Wilk said his primary concern regarding Becerra is “that he’s not particularly committed to religious freedom, and one of my fundamental principles is, I view everything through the prism of freedom.”
Wilk also said, “He may be too lenient in terms of public safety.’’
On the religious aspect, Wilk declined to get into specific concerns but did say, “I don’t think he reflects the majority view of my constituents’’ — and that he also wanted to hear more of what Becerra has to say because, “everything I’ve heard is second hand.’’
Wilk stressed his religious concerns did not address just Christian constituents, but also Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons and a wide variety of other religions prominent in his district.
Stern could be reached for comment on Monday.