SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Democrat Rob Bonta holds the lead in early returns in the attorney general primary election and could face Republican Nathan Hochman, the candidate endorsed by the GOP, in the November general election, according to the Associated Press.

Bonta had an early lead with about 57% of the votes after the polls closed and Hochman trailed him at just above 17%.

A little before 10:00 p.m., independent candidate Anne Marie Schubert conceded the race after early results showed that she was in the last two of the five candidates.

The attorney general is the top prosecutor in the state, is in charge of enforcing the laws of the state, and was established in the California Constitution.

The position has frequently been used as a means to reach a higher position in state and federal government. Xavier Becerra was attorney general before resigning in order to take a position in President Joe Biden’s administration as Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

Kamala Harris was attorney general for several years before being elected U.S. Senator. Previous governors Jerry Brown in 2010 and George Deukmejian in 1978 were also attorneys general for the state directly before being elected governor. However, Brown had already been governor in the 70s and 80s. 

Rob Bonta is the only Democrat in the race for attorney general and is running in his first statewide election after being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in March 2021 after Xavier Becerra’s departure.

In 2012, Bonta was elected to the state Assembly, where he authored laws that reduced the use of state prisons and regulated the legal sale of cannabis in the state. 

Hochman is a native Californian and longtime Los Angeles attorney and has also been an Assistant U.S. Attorney General with the U.S. Department of Justice. Hochman received an endorsement from the state Republican party. 

He has said in interviews that some state criminal statutes make it difficult for police and prosecutors to enforce the law and that his experience as both a prosecutor and defense lawyer will serve him well in the position of attorney general. 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.