We can pretty much assume that Gavin Newsom will be re-elected this year to a second term as California’s governor.

Given that near-certainty, 2022’s most significant statewide race will be Attorney General Rob Bonta’s bid for a full term amidst rising public angst about crime. Newsom appointed Bonta last year after Xavier Becerra resigned to become secretary of Health and Human Services in President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

Bonta is strongly identified with the criminal justice reform movement that critics say is at least partially responsible for the uptick in property and violent crimes by reducing punishment for lawbreakers and putting more of them back on the street rather than behind bars.

A leading critic, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, is not Bonta’s only would-be challenger, but probably would be the one with the greatest chance of unseating him. It’s a test of whether California voters see crime as a game-changing issue.

However it would play out, a Bonta-Schubert duel would be a straightforward contest between two ideological foes.