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The candidates aiming to become California’s next attorney general are homing in on the state’s rising crime rate, as well as its issues with drugs and homelessness, to shine light on why they say current Democratic attorney general Rob Bonta doesn’t deserve to be elected to a full term.
Bonta was appointed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom last year to replace Xavier Becerra, who stepped down to become President Biden’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, and is facing three challengers from the right, including former assistant U.S. Attorney General Nathan Hochman, a Republican, attorney Eric Early, also a Republican, and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, an independent.
The four candidates will face off in Tuesday’s statewide primary, and the top two candidates, regardless of party, will advance to the general election in November.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, Hochman blasted Bonta’s handling of the crises facing Californians and laid out what he would do to address those issues if elected to become the state’s next attorney general.
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When asked about crime across the state, Hochman declared that certain local district attorneys were “failing to do their jobs” when it came to prosecuting crimes.
“They’re failing to bring enhancements in cases involving the most violent, serious offenders in the system,” he said, specifically pointing to embattled San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who have both faced scrutiny over their soft-on-crime approach.
Boudin faces a recall election on Tuesday stemming from backlash from San Francisco voters upset over his policies.
Hochman criticized the support from each for ending cash bail in their districts, as well as what he referred to as their “refusal” to prosecute those accused of committing certain crimes, such as shoplifting items at an amount below a certain value.
He then blasted Bonta for not intervening in those districts, and said he would do so if elected.
“The California attorney general can and should intervene in these various counties and is not,” he said. “He has completely failed the citizens of California, and more particularly, the citizens of those particular counties.”
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Hochman vowed to “set a completely different tone” if elected, and said he would be “independent” in a state government run by Democrats.
“There is no independent voice in Sacramento advocating for the citizens, and in particular the victims of crimes,” he said, before adding that, unlike Democrats, he would look to partner with police on addressing crime and “increase police budgets,” rather than defund them.
“I will make sure criminals understand that all crimes have consequences,” he declared.
To address the homelessness and drug problems across the state, Hochman said he wanted to add “a third option” for the justice system to turn to rather than keep homeless people who commit crimes in jail or just releasing them back onto the streets.
The other option, he explained, would be “mandatory mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment.”
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He also said he would instruct authorities to go after fentanyl dealers and couple that with a “massive education effort” to make sure people knew the life-threatening risk the drug posed to those who decided to use.
“Rob Bonta has been derelict in his duty to not make this one of the top public safety and health issues in the state of California. Shame on him,” he said.
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Early and Schubert have also focused their campaigns heavily on crime, homelessness and drugs, and have each dedicated sections on their campaign websites to how they would address each issue.
Fox News reached out to Bonta and Early for interviews but received no response. Schubert agreed to an interview, but was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.