Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., addresses the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington on Sept. 13, 2010. California Gov. Jerry Brown has formally nominated Becerra to be California's next attorney general. (Charles Dharapak, The Associated Press)

California’s new attorney general gearing up to defend legal weed, other policies

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday nominated Xavier Becerra to be California’s next attorney general, beginning what is likely to be a smooth confirmation for the longtime Democratic congressman who has taken a combative stance against President-elect Donald Trump.

The state Legislature will have 90 days to confirm Becerra, who was nominated the same day Kamala Harris resigned from the post to take her seat in the U.S. Senate. She was elected in November.

Becerra, the highest-ranking Latino in Congress and a prominent surrogate for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has represented parts of Los Angeles for 24 years but faced a less appealing future in Washington following Trump’s election.

As Brown’s pick for attorney general, he has promised to defend California’s liberal policies on recreational marijuana, climate change, health care, immigration and criminal justice.

The state Assembly will begin Becerra’s confirmation process with a committee hearing Jan. 10, said Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Democratic Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Last week, the Assembly Committee on the Office of the Attorney General asked Becerra to detail his plans to tackle issues including immigration, civil rights, the environment, policing and consumer protection.

Plans for Senate committee hearings are still in the works, said Anthony Reyes, a spokesman for Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.

Rendon and de Leon have both spoken highly of Becerra as an experienced and tenacious public servant.

Becerra lives in Los Angeles but recalled last month growing up in Sacramento as a son of poor, hard-working immigrants. He noted that he was the first in his family to graduate from college, obtaining both bachelor’s and law degrees from Stanford University. He said his goal is to offer the same opportunities to others.

Becerra worked as a deputy attorney general for three years before beginning his political career as a state assemblyman in 1990. He was elected to Congress in 1982.

Before resigning, Harris named Kathleen “Kate” Alice Kenealy as acting attorney general until the position is formally filled.