SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The June 7 primary election is well underway. Every registered Californian should have received a ballot in their mailbox by now.
One of the most closely watched statewide races is the one for attorney general. Among the five candidates on the ballot, you have Rob Bonta, the Democratic incumbent; Nathan Hochman, the Republican pick; and an independent making headlines, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. However, only two will make it to the November election.
As a prosecutor, former defense attorney, and assistant U.S Attorney General, Hochman believes he has the tools needed for the position. People might also know Anne Marie Schubert from the prosecution of the Golden State Killer. A long-time conservative, she is running as an independent. She made the switch in 2018 after the highly politicized run for her second term as district attorney.
“I just made a decision after the election that I was going to be true to the position; I was going to be true to me," Schubert said regarding the switch. "It's no secret. I'm openly gay. I have views on different parts of things, none of which really impacts my job, but ultimately, the job of the prosecutor should always be nonpartisan.”
Attorney General Rob Bonta's campaign did not respond to four different interview requests for this story.
We will break this article down by topic, starting with the one Rob Bonta himself is calling for answers on: Abortion.
Nathan Hochman would not explicitly say if he was pro-life or pro-choice, but he made it clear he would enforce the California laws in place.
"I have one basic proposition," Hochman said. "I am running to be California's Attorney General. I'm not running for a state assembly seat, I'm not running for a State Senate seat or the governor's seat. I'm running to be the chief law enforcement officer, so whatever the laws are on the books of the state of California, I fully intend to enforce those laws. Full stop."
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert was quick to say she is pro-choice and will protect the rights of women in California and across the country.
“I'm pro-choice; I support that right to choose," Schubert said. "I support someone coming here to exercise that right as well.”
The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey found that crime is one of the top four voting issues in the state.
"We need to fund law enforcement, we need to give them the resources necessary to go and address, what I call, the major drivers of violent crime," Schubert said. "Illegal weapons, going after the people that are committing... those types of crimes, working with my law enforcement partners."
"I'm not going to sit here and defend the early release of violent inmates from prison, which he's (Bonta) doing," Schubert added.
Both Hochman and Schubert are in favor of reforming Proposition 47 and 57. Voters passed Proposition 47, which makes anything stolen valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor instead of a felony, and 57, which allows for non-violent inmates to earn early release opportunities.
"My biggest challenge has always been with 57," Schubert said. "When you tell people you're only letting out nonviolent inmates, that's a lie because their records are violent. Crimes like domestic violence, human trafficking of a child, drugging and raping a woman are not called violent under the law. What that means is now you're seeing people getting out of prison, even though they have long records."
Hochman said he sent a letter to all 58 district attorneys explaining that they didn't need the state to pass a law for them to put a provision in the release of convicted fentanyl dealers that, if they committed the crime again and it lead to murder, they could be charged with murder.
"I am proud to say that there are 12 of the 58 DAs who implemented this Alexandra notice in plea agreements for convicted fentanyl dealers," he said.
"Quite candidly, if I can do that as a private citizen, imagine if I was the Attorney General," Hochman said, "To bring 4,000 lawyers or the percentage of those lawyers who could deal with this issue immediately across the entire state of California."
It's no secret that Rob Bonta is against the death penalty. As a former state legislator, he co-authored a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban capital punishment.
Hochman would enforce the death penalty.
"Even though the governor has issued a moratorium on enforcing that law, that law still exists on the books," Hochman said. "As long as that law stays on the books, the state of California, I would enforce it."
Anne Marie Schubert apologized and sympathized with the families of victims and California voters when Newsom put a moratorium on capital punishment
"This battle has been fought for many years, and time and time again, Californians have said we want it. We want it to work. I think what's so disheartening to me is that juries across California have made these decisions. It wasn't a decision of one," Schubert said.
HOMELESSNESS: CARE COURT
Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan to help solve California's growing homelessness problem in what he called a "compassionate" way to fix California's broken behavioral health system. In other words, it's a way to get those with mental health issues off the streets and provide them with services.
"I think that's a great idea," Hochman said. "In other words, get the judge an additional tool that he could order mandatory substance abuse treatment instead of just putting someone in jail under certain circumstances."
Schubert said she needs to see the detail of the proposal, but she supports the principle of it.
"I have said for a long time that we do need mandatory drug treatment when you're talking about (the) seriously mentally ill, drug-addicted," she said. "What's happening in our communities across California is inhumane. You know, it is not humane to let folks die in the gutters."
PARTY AFFILIATION AND TRUMP
Schubert is running as an independent, but she voted Republican for decades because of her father.
"I have my own views that are more socially liberal? Yeah, of course I do," she said. "I mean, I'm gay... I'm pro choice - those kinds of things, but I think the job and being authentic to who I am as a person is independent."
Running as an independent in a primary where only the top two will make it to the November ballot is a challenge Schubert believes she can win.
"I'm not naïve. I get it. I understand it. I'm not afraid of challenges. I mean, if you look at my career, I've taken risks in my profession, and I'm willing to do that. And I'm not doing this for any other reason than I love the state, and I believe in public safety," she said.
The Republican Party of California endorsed Nathan Hochman. Political reporter Morgan Rynor asked Hochman whether he would welcome an endorsement from someone like former President Donald Trump.
"I've been endorsed by U.S. attorneys in California that spanned from President Reagan, all the way through the Democratic and Republican presidents, (and) all the way to President Trump. So I believe that bipartisan endorsements are very important to show Californians that I'm going to represent Californians, not one particular party, and I fully understand any concern that any Californian has, and I would say, 'Look. Look at my qualifications.'"