Editor’s note: Sacramento’s district attorney may have her sights on statewide office
Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento County’s district attorney, pushed hard last year to raise the limits on campaign contributions, preparing to run for a third term in 2022.
County supervisors rejected her proposal, but it’s looking more likely that it will turn out to be a moot point: In 2022, Schubert may run for California attorney general instead.
The latest hint: Her outspoken criticism of new Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón for his criminal justice reforms. He told his prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty and trying juveniles as adults, banned prosecutors from appearing at parole hearings and barred them from seeking some sentencing enhancements.
Schubert responded by saying she will not share any cases with Gascón. And this week, she joined the California District Attorneys Association in praising a judge’s ruling blocking the reforms.
“Our legal and ethical duty is to enforce the law, not make the law,” she said in a statement. “Sensible improvements to the justice system—including appropriate alternatives to incarceration—can be achieved without a wholesale abandonment of prosecutorial duties and victims’ rights. Today is a great day for crime victims and public safety.”
Schubert is also making headlines by leading a group of district attorneys and the U.S. attorney in Sacramento in an investigation of a multibillion-dollar unemployment fraud involving inmates in state prisons and county jails, among others. It’s a scandal that continues to mushroom into what she calls potentially the largest fraud of taxpayer dollars in state history.
Schubert has been burnishing her law-and-order credentials—and laying the groundwork for higher office—for years, however.
In April 2018, she won international fame with the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo in the decades-old cold case of the Golden State Killer by using groundbreaking DNA technology. He pleaded guilty to 13 murders and nearly 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty and was sentenced last August to life in prison.
A week after winning reelection in 2018, Schubert changed her registration from Republican to independent. While Republican registration is plummeting in California, “no party preference” voters are increasing, to about 24%, the same proportion of the electorate as the GOP.
Schubert has declined to prosecute law enforcement officers, even those who kill unarmed civilians, most notably Stephon Clark, killed by Sacramento police in 2018.
While that has made her a target for criminal justice reform advocates and Black Lives Matter protestors, it has built backing from law-and-order voters and law enforcement groups, who are consistent financial supporters.
She is being mentioned as a possible candidate for attorney general. And politically, the timing might make sense for Schubert to seek the second most prominent statewide office.
If current Attorney General Xavier Becerra is confirmed as President Joe Biden’s health and human services secretary, whoever is appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom will have less than two years to serve in office—and to raise money—before running in 2022.
One of those reportedly under consideration is Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. That at least raises the possibility of a contest between Steinberg and Schubert for attorney general in 2022. Imagine that.