House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is reportedly hoping to leave Congress — by getting a promotion from California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
According to Axios, Schiff is currently lobbying Newsom to be appointed as California's next attorney general, a position vacated by President Joe Biden's nomination of Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Schiff's effort is reportedly supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has come to rely on him as a close ally in the House, despite the fact that his departure from Congress could potentially make the Democrats' narrow 221-211 majority even smaller.
Axios noted that as state attorney general, Schiff would be in a better position to launch a campaign for U.S. Senate in 2024 if 87-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) decides not to run for re-election. This wouldn't be without precedent. Vice President Kamala Harris served as California's attorney general before running for U.S. Senate and winning the seat vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer's retirement.
If Schiff were to be appointed attorney general, a special election would be triggered for California's 28th Congressional District to fill the vacancy. The district, which is comprised of Hollywood, Burbank, and parts of Los Angeles, is a Democratic stronghold with little chance of flipping to the Republicans, even with the lower turnout generally associated with special elections.
Newsom has not yet made any indication if he's likely to appoint Schiff or the various other persons jockeying for the open position. Other potential candidates mentioned for the job by the San Francisco Chronicle include Rob Bonta, a member of the state Assembly, and Rick Chavez Zbur, director of Equality California, a LGBTQ advocacy group
"It's pretty clear that there are advocates for their favorites," California political strategist Bill Carrick told Axios. "But it's not clear that that will have any influence on the one person who will make the decision: Gov. Gavin Newsom."
California's current attorney general, Becerra, faces fierce opposition from conservatives as Biden's nominee for HHS secretary. Becerra has no public health experience as an executive or administrator of public health programs. He is a career politician, serving 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017 before being appointed attorney general of California by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Becerra has a reputation as a culture warrior for progressive causes and conservatives believe that if placed in charge of HHS, he will work tirelessly to erase President Donald Trump's pro-life Title X policies, reinstating government funding for abortion providers, as well expand Obamacare to cover gender-reassignment surgery and abortion.