LawFlash

State Attorneys General Results — 2014

November 06, 2014

Open Races Lead to New AGs in More Than 25% of States

All Incumbents Prevail in Reelection Bids

Republicans Gain Three Seats Held by Democrats — Achieve 27/24 Advantage Over Democrats

Seasoned Leaders of Multistate Investigations Reelected

Republican AGs Vow to Continue Fight Against Activist Federal Regulation

Republicans have picked up at least three seats held by Democratic Attorneys General — in Arkansas, Nevada, and Tennessee — and now hold a 27-24 partisan advantage over Democratic Attorneys General.

The 2014 election cycle included thirty-seven (37) Attorney General posts, nineteen (19) of which were in Republican hands and eighteen (18) of which were in Democratic hands. The twenty (20) incumbent Attorneys General who ran for election were successful. Twelve (12) — in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah — are Republican and eight (8) — in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — are Democrats.

Twelve new Attorneys General will take office in January — seven Republicans and five Democrats. They replace six Democratic and five Republican incumbents who were term-limited, chose not to run for reelection, lost primary challenges, or ran for other statewide offices. The twelfth new Attorney General is the first elected Attorney General in District of Columbia history. Of the twelve newly-elected Attorneys General, six — in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Nevada — will be holding elective office for the first time. Two — in Maryland and Texas — come from the state legislative ranks, and two — in Delaware and New Mexico — served as Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Commissioner and State Auditor, respectively. Finally, the Wisconsin Attorney General-elect served as a County District Attorney.

The Tennessee Supreme Court selected a new Attorney General who was sworn in on October 1 and as many as four additional Attorney General slots could change hands as a result of yesterday’s elections. These include the Attorneys General of Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming, all of whom are gubernatorial appointees. The governorship in Wyoming remained in the Republican column and the Hawaii governorship remained in Democratic hands. While this does not guarantee that the incumbent Attorneys General will remain in office, it is likely that those offices will remain in the same party’s hands. In Alaska, Independent candidate Bill Walker leads incumbent Governor Sean Parnell (R). In Maine, where the Attorney General is elected by the state legislature, current results, although close, point to a Democratic majority and a continued Democratic hold on the office.

Projected Partisan Make-Up

Going into this election season, the Democrats held a 27-24 advantage over Republicans. With the Republicans picking up seats in Arkansas, Nevada, and Tennessee, Republicans have reversed that advantage. A final count depends on the still-uncertain results in Alaska and Maine.

The New Attorneys General

Arizona — Mark Brnovich is a former director of the Arizona Department of Gaming and, most recently, served as a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government. He will succeed Attorney General Tom Horne, whom he defeated in the Republican primary.by a 54%-46% margin.

Arkansas — Leslie Rutledge (R) is a former prosecutor who also served as Deputy Counsel to Governor Mike Huckabee and as Legal Counsel to the Mike Huckabee for President campaign and for the Republican National Committee. Most recently, she served as Principal of The Rutledge Law Firm, in Little Rock. Rutledge rode a Republican wave that brought Republican Asa Hutchinson into the Governorship and replaced two-term Senator and former Attorney General Mark Pryor (D). She will be the first Republican since Reconstruction to serve as Arkansas Attorney General. She succeeds Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D), who is term-limited.

Colorado — Cynthia Coffman (R) served as Chief Counsel to Governor Bill Owens (R) and then as Chief Deputy to incumbent Attorney General John Suthers (R). She is married to Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO), who was just reelected to his fourth term in office. Coffman will succeed Suthers, who is term-limited.  

Delaware — Matt Denn (D) is in his second term as Lieutenant Governor and served one term as the state’s Insurance Commissioner. He announced his run for Attorney General after incumbent Beau Biden (D) announced both his intention not to run for re-election as Attorney General and his intention to run for Governor in 2016. 

District of Columbia — Karl Racine (D) prevailed over a crowded all-Democratic field to become the District’s first elected Attorney General. Racine served as public defender, an associate White House counsel in the Clinton administration, and as managing partner at the Venable law firm in the District.  

Maryland — Brian Frosh (D) served in the Maryland House of Delegates for two terms and is in his fifth term in the State Senate. He will succeed two-term Attorney General Doug Gansler (D), who made an unsuccessful primary run for Governor. Only Democrats have been elected Attorney General since the mid-20th century and this election was the first since 2006 that a Republican ran for the post.

Massachusetts — Maura Healey (D) served on the staff of Attorney General Martha Coakley. In that role, she served as Chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy and Business & Labor Bureaus and oversaw five divisions — Health Care, Antitrust, Not-for-Profit/Charities, Fair Labor, and Medicaid Fraud. Coakley, who served as Attorney General for two terms, lost her bid for the Governorship.

Nebraska — Doug Peterson is in private practice in Lincoln. Before that, he worked as a deputy county attorney and an assistant attorney general. During the primary campaign, Peterson promised that, as Attorney General, he would be a “workhorse” instead of a “showhorse” and pledged to not run for higher office while serving as Attorney General. Except for a 31-hour stay by a Democrat in 1950 while an election dispute was being decided, the office has been occupied by a Republican for 75 years. Peterson succeeds three-term Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), who ran for Governor and lost in the primary. 

Nevada — Adam Laxalt (R) is a Las Vegas attorney and the grandson of former Governor and Senator Paul Laxalt. Laxalt defeated Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), the son of former Governor Bob Miller (D). Laxalt will succeed two-term Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who was term-limited.

New Mexico — Hector Balderas (D) served two terms as New Mexico State Auditor and before that served in the state legislature. He succeeds Gary King (D), who was term-limited and ran unsuccessfully for Governor.

Tennessee — Herbert Slatery III (R) was selected as Attorney General by the state’s Supreme Court and sworn into office on October 1, 2014. He had served as Chief Legal Officer to Governor Bill Haslam (R) and is the first Republican Attorney General in Tennessee history. He succeeds Democrat Bob Cooper, who served as Attorney General for the previous eight years.

Texas — Ken Paxton (R) served in the state House of Representatives for ten years before his election to the state Senate in 2012. He follows three-term Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) who will succeed Governor Rick Perry (R) as Governor. Texas has not had a Democratic Attorney General since 1999.

Wisconsin — Brad Schimel (R) will succeed two-term Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R), who did not run for reelection.  Schimel has been Waukesha County District Attorney since 2006 and before that was an assistant district attorney in the County for 16 years.

Incumbent Attorneys General Prevail

With the exception of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who lost in Republican primary, every incumbent Attorney General who sought reelection prevailed:

Alabama — Luther Strange (R) was reelected to a second term.

California — Kamala Harris (D) was reelected to a second term.

Connecticut — George Jepsen (D) was reelected to a second term.

Florida — Pam Bondi (R) was reelected to a second term.

Georgia — Sam Olens (R) was reelected to a second term.

Idaho — Lawrence Wasden (R) was reelected to a fourth term.

Illinois — Lisa Madigan (D) was reelected to a fourth term.

Iowa — Tom Miller (IA) was reelected to a ninth term.

Kansas — Derek Schmidt (R) was reelected to a second term.

Michigan — Bill Schuette (R) was reelected to a second term.

Minnesota — Lisa Swanson (DFL) was reelected to a third term.

New York — Eric Schneiderman (D) was reelected to a second term.

North Dakota — Wayne Stenehjem (R) was reelected to a fifth term.

Ohio — Mike DeWine (R) was reelected to a second term.

Oklahoma — Scott Pruitt (R), running unopposed, was reelected to a second term.

Rhode Island — Peter Kilmartin (D) was reelected to a second term.

South Carolina — Alan Wilson (R) was reelected to a second term.

South Dakota — Marty Jackley (R) was reelected to a second term.

Utah — Sean Reyes (R), who was appointed to replace Attorney General John Swallow (R), won the race to fill Swallow’s unexpired term. His term ends in 2016.

Vermont — Bill Sorrell (D) was reelected to a ninth (two-year) term.

AGs Running for Higher Office

Five Attorneys General ran for Governor in 2014. Only one, Greg Abbott (R-TX), was successful. Both Doug Gansler (D-MD) and Jon Bruning (R-NE) lost their primary bids and Democrats Martha Coakley (MA) and Gary King (NM) lost their general election races.

AG and Gubernatorial Races

In contrast to the Attorney General races in which all twenty (20) incumbents who ran for reelection in the general election prevailed, two of twenty-nine (29) Governors lost their bids for reelection — in Illinois and Pennsylvania. In addition, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) lost in his party’s primary, but will be succeeded by another Democrat. In the seven races in which Governors did not run for reelection, the Republicans retained three seats — in Arizona, Nebraska, and Texas — and gained three — in Arkansas, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Only in Rhode Island did the Democrats retain the governorship. Three races in which Democrats hold the state house — Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont — are too close to call. At this juncture, the number of Republican governors has increased to at least 32.

For additional information, please contact:

Stephen Merrill: stephen.merrill@bingham.com      

Tim Shea: timothy.shea@bingham.com      

Nick Gess: nicholas.gess@bingham.com

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Merrill-Stephen
Shea-Timothy
Gess-Nicholas

This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.