Lost among the roar of 36 Governor races and 34 Senate races on the 2022 ballot are the 30 different votes to elect State Attorney General. Let’s take a look at the top 8 races for AG.
But first we have to remember why these elections matter: State AGs are the most important politicians that no one has ever heard of. Over the last 10 years, State AGs have become central players in American government. As Congress wandered into gridlock, the courts have grown more powerful and State AGs have a direct pipeline to that power. Trump-supporting Republican AGs made their mark on history by pushing the Big Lie that the election was stolen, and helping inspire the January 6 Capitol Riots. These same Republican AGs now consider themselves the resistance to the Biden-Harris administration and are flexing their muscles with efforts like their Supreme Court lawsuit to overturn Roe vs. Wade, even as Democratic AGs like New York’s Letitia James are displaying their power with efforts like the Cuomo Investigation.
So it’s not only justice that will be on the ballot with these 2022 races for State AG, it is literally every domestic policy issue.
Of the 30 races for State AG, there are 8 that will be particularly hard-fought, 4 of which are currently held by Republicans and 4 by Democrats. To the list!
- Arizona — The Grand Canyon State is the most likely state to change partisan control this year, partly because incumbent AG Mark Brnovich [R] is termed out. This will give Dems a good opportunity to pick up the AG office in a state that has been trending blue lately. Keep an eye also on Brnovich’s next campaign, challenging Mark Kelly [D] for his Senate seat. That race will probably feature explosive attacks on Brnovich’s record, including his support of the corrupt election “audit,” and charges that he is minimizing the drought and climate issue to benefit electricity companies, who are his longtime allies.
- Texas — Normally Texas would be further down the list, as Dems don’t seem to have cracked its code. However the corruption and unlikability of incumbent AG Ken Paxton [R] injects a huge amount of uncertainty into the result. Will George P. Bush [R] be able to take him out in the primary? Will Paxton be disbarred or convicted? Could a strong Dem candidate have a shot? How will Paxton’s feud with Governor Greg Abbott [R] turn out? This whole situation is seedy and Paxton is a bad-faith operator, so we have the makings of real political drama. Molly Ivins would have loved it.
- Georgia — This state completes the top tier of battleground State AG races, all based in the Sunbelt. Incumbent AG Chris Carr [R] has had a really bad couple of years; he fought with Trump, watched his political ally Sen. Kelly Loeffler [R] lose, and is now being targeted by the most extreme elements of his own party. This race should closely track the marquee Governor and Senate races in the state, featuring incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp [R] and Sen. Raphael Warnock [D].
- Wisconsin — We now move to a tier of races that are expected to be extremely close, but where the incumbent party has a clear advantage. Wisconsin was a squeaker in the 2020 Presidential election, with Biden coming through by about 20,000 votes. Democrats in the state hope that incumbent Gov. Tony Evers [D] will do better and win a clear re-election that will pull along the state’s workmanlike AG Josh Kaul [D]. Expect another bitterly-partisan race in a state known for them, especially if incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson [R] runs for re-election on his Trumpian platform.
- Nevada — Moving out West, Nevada is another battleground where the incumbent Democrat has an edge. The current AG, Aaron Ford [D], is blessed with enough charm to give himself an advantage in this race. He is one of several African-American AGs in office and has displayed a real talent for connecting with the public. The Senate race will uniquely feature a pair of former AGs, as Adam Laxalt [R] will challenge Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto [D] for her seat.
- Michigan — Speaking of charismatic AGs, Michigan’s cat-joke-cracking AG Dana Nessel [D] is one of a kind and a natural for this social-media age. She is part of a ticket of women leaders, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer [D] and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson [D], who should be headed for re-election despite harsh attacks from their state’s Republicans.
- Florida — Maybe Florida should be ranked higher, but it is hard to bet against Governor Rick Scott [R], the ultimate self-funder, who has an unlimited budget for his race. Maybe Scott or Senator Marco Rubio [R] will falter in the face of Democratic attacks, but they have to be considered favorites as the race begins. AG Ashley Moody [R] has not distinguished herself in any way and her fate is probably mostly out of her hands and dependent on the state’s political swing.
- Minnesota — Did Donald Trump end Minnesota’s time as a swing state? He got clobbered in the election there by more than 7 points, and it is hard for me at this point to see either Governor Tim Walz [D] or AG Keith Ellison [D] losing.
Honorable mention: The incumbents are all clearly favored in the next tier of AG races, but they are worth keeping an eye on. For Republicans, that means incumbents in Ohio, South Carolina, Kansas, and New Hampshire. For Democrats, that means incumbent AGs in Colorado, Connecticut, and Iowa are the same.
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