Hillary Clinton had her walks in the woods after the election. Amanda Rentería, former national political director for Clinton’s campaign, had her return home to family and a wish that she could have done more.
Five months from the night of Clinton’s presidential election loss and Donald Trump’s win, Rentería has fashioned that wish into a new fight: she’s joined the staff of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to preserve California's own progressive laws and values and be part of a front line in the resistance against Trump and his administration.
“I landed in California, back in the safe zone where my family is and home is and Becerra follows up and says ‘Hey what are you doing? We got to make sure we are fighting. We have to be in this,” said Rentería, who is originally from the state’s Central Valley.
At the time, she had wrapped herself in the comfort of family and her home state. But Rentería said she already felt a sense of urgency that it was no longer possible to feel content in the progressiveness of the state and believe it would remain in place with Trump in the White House and an administration focused on dismantling progressive environmental laws, pro-immigrant laws and policies, Obamacare and other policies that California has embraced and gone beyond.
“Our progress, our advancement (in California) can be hindered by what is happening in the White House,” she said.
For about the past two weeks, Rentería has been working as chief of operations in the California justice department that Becerra, a former U.S. congressman, heads as AG.
Technically, her job description entails overseeing the day-to-day operations to ensure attorneys can move forward with their work. She monitors such things as how all the offices work across the board, how well do they run, are they equipped for their job, how the budgeting, human resources and technology systems are functioning.
But because Trump is seen as anathema to California's liberalism and the state's many Latinos, the job is much more, different even than when U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the former state attorney general elected to the Senate in November, led it.
Her job will require repositioning resources, including a budget written before Trump took office, in order to wage the legal challenges against Trump that the state expects it will have to undertake.
“The world really has changed and the role we play in it, the California Department of Justice, we are on front lines in a way we haven’t been before," Rentería said.
Being in the center of the 2016 presidential campaign, Rentería said she got a good “preview” of what is being seen now in the chaotic early days of the Trump presidency, including the Russia factor that the Clinton campaign had tried to focus attention on. Any surprise about Trump's governing and ambitions, left a long time ago, Rentería said.
“The concern of what he might be, with what we were seeing, was frightening back then,” she said.