By Mike McPhate
If there’s a Democratic revolt against the Trump administration, California’s attorney general is arguably one of its more important architects.
Since taking the job in January, Xavier Becerra has brought dozens of legal actions against the federal government.
He has challenged the travel ban, threats to federal funding, the plan to end the “dreamer” program, changes to health care and environmental policy and, just Wednesday, the proposed border wall.
In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Becerra, 59, said he saw his role as one of safeguarding California’s ability to prosper.
“California is not looking to pick a fight,” he said. “But if Trump is trying to get in our way, that’s when we go at it.”
With a Republican Congress and White House, Democratic attorneys general across the country have assumed outsize roles on the national stage by using the courts to halt policies that they argue cause harm to their states.
In California, the biggest state by population, Mr. Becerra brings more firepower than anyone to the fight. His Department of Justice has more than 4,500 employees and a budget of more than $800 million.
“He’s on the front lines. He’s got the budget. He has the position in California government. He’s got access to national media given that it’s California,” said John J. Pitney, Jr., a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “A vigorous California attorney general can have a real impact.”
Some critics have accused Mr. Becerra and other California leaders of putting too much energy into fighting Mr. Trump and not enough attention on matters within the state.
Joel Anderson, a Republican state senator from San Diego County, suggested Mr. Becerra has retained a partisan mindset from his days as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
“California’s top cop is expected to work for everyone, not just the supermajority,” he said, referring to the Democrats’ domination of the California legislature.
Mr. Becerra is not the first attorney general to go hard at a president from a rival party.
The Obama administration was a frequent target for Greg Abbott, then the Republican attorney general of Texas and now the state’s governor. According to a tally by The Texas Tribune, Texas sued the administration at least 48 times.
If Mr. Becerra’s pace continues, he could well surpass that.
He’s got another legal action cooking, he said on Thursday, this time on the environment.