The Issue Is: California AG Rob Bonta makes his final pitch to voters

The midterms are fast approaching, weeks have now turned to days.

In this final stretch, California Attorney General Rob Bonta joins Elex Michaelson on The Issue Is to make his final pitch to voters.

Bonta is seeking his first full-term as California’s A.G., having been appointed to the role in early 2021, part of a revolving door in California politics, Governor Gavin Newsom appointing Bonta to complete the term of then-A.G. Xavier Becerra, who had been tapped as Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Biden administration.

In an extensive conversation, Bonta discusses his work combating the fentanyl crisis and the new investigation into that leaked racist audio of L.A. City Council members. He also responds to critics who accuse him of being too closely aligned with controversial L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon, as well as to those who criticize his decision not participate in a televised general election debate with his A.G. challenger Nathan Hochman.

Also this week, a debate over Proposition 30, a November ballot initiative which would impose a 1.75% income tax on California’s highest earners, those earning more than $2 million a year, to fund electric vehicle infrastructure and wildfire prevention efforts.

In support of the measure, Eli Lipmen. Representing the opposition, Matt Rodriguez.


ATTORNEY GENERAL BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "My superior experience for this role, my priorities, which are in line and in sync with the people of California, and my effectiveness, in short, and whether it be my vast experience working on state issues at the state level or as an elected official for over a decade-and-a-half working on all the issues that Californians hold dear, from public safety to housing to climate justice, to health care to rights, including the right to reproductive freedom and the right to be free from gun violence, holding the powerful, including corporations and polluters, accountable when they violate the law - that's what my record is full of. That's what I've been doing. That's what I've been fighting for. I see the role as being the people's attorney, making your fights, people of California, my fight, standing by your side…"


ATTORNEY GENERAL BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think debates are good for democracy. We've done two debates in this race, one in the primary, on, on video still available, available on TV in real time, where questions were posed to all of the candidates and rebuttals were provided as well, provided real opportunity for robust debate, presented the stark contrast of the different candidates. And then we did it again in the general, recently, and again that's that's available, that's on video, that was in real time and live, that provided an opportunity for back-and-forth rebuttal and contrast. And I think the contrast is absolutely clear, that what I present to the people of California and what my opponent presents, or in his case fails to be able to present, in terms of being an effective attorney general who will fight on all the issues that people care about. My opponent has talked about one issue, one issue only: crime - a very important issue, public safety is issue number one, two and three for me, but I'm actually doing things, as I've mentioned, and he's talking about it and doing nothing…"


ATTORNEY GENERAL BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "So at that time, I joined the majority of the voters of Los Angeles in supporting George Gascon and the promise that he presented as a candidate to fight for safety and justice and fairness. And there are many district attorneys throughout the state of California. I work with all of them. They all have different approaches and different perspectives, and I do it my way as well. I have my own approach and my own perspective and style, and it's different than than everyone else's, there's no one who does it like me, I do it my own way, Fueled by the evidence and the data to keep people safe and to make our system fair…

"There's been this sort of very clumsy attempt at guilt by association throughout the campaign of my opponent, but the facts speak for themselves in the way that I approach criminal justice, public safety, holding people accountable. I've said it time and time again, when people commit crime, any crime, misdemeanor or felony, you must arrest them. The data shows that the thing that deters people from committing crime is knowing that they'll be arrested if they commit that crime, so we need to arrest the people and arrest people and hold them accountable, proportionate to the crime that they committed…"


ATTORNEY GENERAL BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We've made this a top priority because we know that fentanyl and the harm and hurt and pain and death that's stemming from our fentanyl crisis is that it's a full crisis. It's a full state of emergency. And we've been at work on this issue for months, and during my entire time as Attorney General, and whether someone wished to be informed about that and do their research or not, we were doing the work, bringing down billions, billions with a B, of dollars from settlements against opioid manufacturers and distributors who helped fuel the opioid crisis statewide and nationwide, bringing that money into communities where it can help heal and mitigate and provide services and programs to address drug addiction and improve and promote education to help stop the fentanyl crisis and the opioid crisis across the state and the country….

"I asked for, and got, a fentanyl task force, 25 new positions, $8 million in year one, $7 million approximately in year two to take on the fentanyl crisis, to go after the manufacturers who are manufacturing fentanyl and the distributors that are bringing it into California and moving it around California. And, you know, we have been making arrests as well, multiple arrests, over 200. We've seized over 1,000 pounds of fentanyl, taking 4 million pills off the streets, every one of those pills represents someone who could be hurt or harmed or even killed. And so we're saving lives. We're taking on fentanyl. We're using our resources and prioritizing and moving the needle, making a difference every day…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to