Becerra leaving Congress to become Calif. attorney general
© Greg Nash
 
 
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California Gov. Jerry Brown nominated Becerra, the lawmaker said in a statement Thursday.
 
"Governor Brown has presented me with an opportunity I cannot refuse — to serve as Attorney General of my home state. As a former deputy attorney general, I relished the chance to be our state's chief law enforcement officer to protect consumers, advance criminal justice reform and, of course, keep our families safe,” Becerra said.
 
Becerra is term-limited in his current post as House Democratic Caucus chairman, raising questions about the rising party star’s next move.
 
The highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, he was a prominent surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAmerica departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump McConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' MORE and traveled to 15 states over the course of the 2016 campaign cycle. 
 
 
The 12-term Congressman had just announced his bid this week to become the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee before the surprising announcement. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) stepped down from the position amid internal strife among House Democrats about whether top positions had become stagnant since the party doesn’t impose term limits on committee slots.
 
Becerra had been seen as a front-runner for the post. But his departure will smooth the way for Rep. Richard Neal (D) — who has represented Massachusetts since 1989 and lost his bid for the chairmanship to Levin in 2010 — to lead Democrats on the panel for what is expected to be a busy few years. Levin endorsed Neal to succeed him at the top of the Ways and Means Committee within minutes of Becerra’s announcement.
 
 
Becerra was also the only member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who didn't endorse Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) during her Senate race against Harris.
 
Another Hispanic Caucus member, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), issued a scathing statement earlier this week in response to Becerra announcing his candidacy for the Ways and Means post. 
 
Brown’s nomination of Becerra will be subject to confirmation by the California state Assembly and Senate. Becerra would be California's second Hispanic statewide official, along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
 
- Vicki Needham contributed.
 
- Updated at 12:19 p.m.