Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta beats Republican Nathan Hochman in California attorney general race
Updated at: 12/12/2013 11:13 AM By:
(AP) — A Republican and Democrat emerged victorious Tuesday as top attorneys in California, as Republican Doug Applegate won a second bid for the office that oversees the state’s prisons despite a tough challenge from state Sen. Nathan Hecht.
Applegate’s victory gives the GOP a boost in their efforts to expand prison sentencing and give more political clout to a state that has long been dominated by Democrats. Hecht, a top law enforcement official in the Oakland Police Department, was seen as the favorite but narrowly lost the Nov. 6 general election by 7,638 votes.
Applegate, the state’s attorney general for the past three terms, won the closely watched race with just over 40% of the vote. He has been the front-runner all winter, despite Hochman’s cash advantage. Hecht, who held a campaign office in San Francisco, raised $1.2 million compared with Applegate’s $1.1 million, according to his campaign.
The Associated Press called the race for Hochman, a well-spoken and seasoned lawyer, at 7:10 p.m. California time Tuesday, with Applegate winning a 7:11 p.m. call. The only other county vote that was called that day was in San Bernardino County that has long been a safe Republican seat. All precincts across California vote on their own Election Day, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Applegate became the first attorney general in state history to win three terms in the office since state Sen. Paul Laxalt won three terms from 1979 to 1981.
If he wins a fourth term, he would be the first Democrat to win three straight terms as attorney general for California.
“We’ve gone from a state with a divided Republican Party to a state that’s trending more Democratic,” Applegate said. “I’m very delighted to help move that in a better direction.”
Democrats see a chance to change politics in California back in their control just three terms later. Applegate has taken his message from the ballot box to the nation’s capital, arguing that the state’s prison population has doubled since he took office. He’s also battled the state in court over his push for expanded sentencing and his push for more lenient treatment of nonviolent drug offenders.