Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
03/08/2015 9:05 PM

Let’s assume – at least for this missive – that two years hence, Kamala Harris will have begun her new job: U.S. senator.

It’s a reasonable assumption because it’s increasingly unlikely that a heavyweight challenger from either party will be a major impediment for Harris as she claims the Senate seat that Barbara Boxer is giving up.

As she takes her seat in the Senate, of course, Harris would resign as attorney general midway through her second term, which coincides with the midway point in Jerry Brown’s fourth and final term as governor.

Brown would name Harris’ successor as attorney general – subject to confirmation by the Legislature – and therefore could potentially set up someone to succeed him as governor two years later.

Serving as attorney general is California’s most obvious path to the governorship. Not only did Brown and his father both hold the position on their way to the governor’s suite (Jerry Brown for the second time), but Republican George Deukmejian made it in 1982. In fact, every attorney general of the last 40 years, except Harris and Bill Lockyer, has run for governor.

Brown could, of course, opt for a caretaker – someone to fill the position without having the overt ambition to continue – although once in office seemingly temporary appointees sometimes catch the bug.

A caretaker appointment would make other potential 2018 candidates for governor very happy – especially Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s already off and running, but possibly other second-tier politicians such as Treasurer John Chiang, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, or San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

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