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Attorney General Kamala Harris thanks California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, after he announced his endorsement of her for the U.S. Senate during a news conference at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif. Harris is running against fellow Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, among others, to replace Barbara Boxer who is retiring. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

October 10, 2016
Updated: October 10, 2016 – 2:08pm

California’s attorney general, the state’s top lawyer and law enforcer, is chosen by the voters, as provided by the state Constitution since 1849. But there’s a good chance the state’s next AG will be picked by Gov. Jerry Brown.

If Attorney General Kamala Harris wins her U.S. Senate race against Rep. Loretta Sanchez and succeeds retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, she will vacate the state office she has held since 2011. Her immediate successor, by law, would be her chief deputy, Nathan Barankin, but it would be up to Brown to decide who holds the office for the remaining two years of Harris’ term.

That hasn’t happened since 1902, when Attorney General Tirey Ford resigned just before the end of his term after being accused of bribery. (He was later acquitted.) Gov. Henry Gage appointed Ulysses Webb. the Plumas County district attorney and a fellow Republican, as Ford’s successor. Webb served the last few months of Ford’s term and then was elected to a four-year term — and re-elected eight more times before finally retiring in 1938.

Brown, who preceded Harris as state AG, would certainly choose a fellow Democrat to succeed her, most likely from the limited supply of prosecutors and other government lawyers who haven’t opposed his Proposition 57 ballot measure to shorten sentences for some of the state’s less-violent inmates.

One name that has surfaced is Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney and a former member of the Democratic leadership in the state Assembly. Closer to home, another upwardly mobile office-holder who seems to fit the criteria is San Francisco DA George Gascón. Stay tuned.