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Thursday, April 20, 2006

2006 Attorneys General Races

Posted by DavidNYC

Once upon a time, party labels didn't matter all that much in state Attorneys General races - it really just came down to "your sheriff vs. my sheriff." This, however, has changed a lot starting in the 1990s. Nowadays, we can expect Republican AGs to be toadies to power, while Dem AGs vigorously fight on behalf of regular folks. This stark difference is all the more important given how egregiously federal agencies have abdicated their enforcement duties. To illustrate this point another way, you need look no further than the trailblazing career of Eliot Spitzer - a guy we could use a few more of.

And where will we get more Spitzers? The Democratic Attorney General's Association has provided us with a very handy map of this year's races where the AG spot is up for grabs:

Note that five posts on the map are controlled either by the governor or the legislature. Dems are safe in NH & WY, while Lingle is safe in HI. Murkowski, however, is vulnerable in Alaska, while Dem control of the legislature in Maine seems to be dicey.

As to specific races, I have to confess I don't know a whole lot about what's going on outside of NY. Here in the Empire State, Republicans had hoped that DA Janeane Pirro would be a better fit for the AG race, after her embarrassing departure from the Senate race. Turns out, a knave is a knave - Pirro is getting swamped by both front-runners for the Dem nomination, Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green.

There are so many other races to keep track of that I just haven't yet found room in my brain to add the AGs. But if you know anything about your local AG race, please tell us what's going on in comments.

Posted at 01:39 PM in 2006 Elections - State | Technorati

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David Van Os (D) vs. Gred Abbott (I-R)
Van Os is easily the best on the democratic ticket in Texas this year. Ran for supreme court in 2004, got 40-41%, outperforming Kerry by 3. He has been going to the rural places that Dems rarely go in his campaign. Problem in Texas is our voters don't like cross voting on their tickets. He's running a very populist/progressive campaign, definitely no love for Bush. Promising stuff like he actually will argue cases personally, pointing out the constitution defines TX AG as "people's lawyer." Additionally, he's got the Texas constitution almost completely memorized, take that as you will. Things in Texas may change in June assuming this, the third special session of the legislature fails on education reform thus leading to NO public schools in the fall.

Anywho, if anyone in Texas has a chance it's him.

Posted by: trowaman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 02:52 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pennsylvania, saldy, has not had a Dem AG since about WWII. Eisenhower came close in 2004, but lost by about 2 pts. I have no idea who's going to run in 2008 - maybe Pittsburgh DA Steve Zappala.

Posted by: Craig McLaughlin [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 03:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks for highlighting the AG races. It's an office we often forget about, particularly in terms of knowing anything about races outside of our own states. But if you doubt the importance of them, of the 10 open seats, 8 (I believe -- someone correct me if I'm wrong) are open because the AG is running for another office, particularly governor. So this can be a great place to promote good Democrats, and stop particularly icky Republicans before they run for something even "bigger" (here I've got Kansas in mind in particular).

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 03:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Former Governor Jerry Brown is running for State Attorney General in California. I can't think of a better candidate. He's experienced at all levels of Goverment having been Governor, Presidential Candidate and currently long time Mayor Oakland, Ca overseeing their renewal.

One aspect of Gov. Brown that can't be overlooked is that he has no tolerance for playing favorites when it comes to ethics or law. Personally, I've met him a number of times.

I think of him as an Independent thinker/Philospher who will tolerate zero BS as Attorney General. And I think anyone who knows him would agree that while he is the consumate politician, that as AG he would attack anyone from any Party that crossed any line.

I have faith in Jerry Brown. If we had listened to his visionary ideas 20 years ago we, as a nation, wouldn't be in many of the messes we are in today.

Posted by: Stuart O'Neill [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 03:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Wisconsin Attorney General race will be a a true battle royale in both parties.

The incumbent Peg LAUTENSCHLAGER was Co-Chair of Howard DEAN's campaign in 2004 and is the most progressive Attorney General in the 25 years I have followed Wisconsin politcs. Peg does not get along very well with Gov. Jim DOYLE the previous Attorney General because DOYLE is a Republicrat who triangulates in business direction every chance he gets and he feels Peg should defer to his judgement on nearly every issue, which she does not. Peg has maintained the political support of most of the unions in the state who have strongly chastized FALK for hurting the Democrats chances for retaining the office in the fall. Peg has two problems however, the first problem was her conviction for a DWI back in early 2005. That generated her second problem, a serious primary challenger, Dane Co. Executive Kathleen FALK.

Kathleen's political resume is she was the State Intervenor in the state Attorney General's office (the GOP eliminated the job to get rid of her) and afterwards she easily overwhelmed all opposition and claimed the Dane Co. Executive job, and is likely the most popular politican in Dane Co. at this time. Kathleen was also involved in Howard DEAN's 2004 campaign and she ran against Jim DOYLE in the 2004 Democratic primary for Governor, coming in a strong third, but defeating Jim DOYLE rather easily in Dane Co., which Gov. Jim DOYLE also calls home. Kathleen had trouble expanding her appeal much beyond Dane Co. in that race.

Both LAUTENSCHLAGER & FALK are wonderful progressives. FALK is attempting to position herself for a 2nd Gubernatorial run to succeed DOYLE (if re-elected in 2006 no sure thing) and DOYLE is widely perceived as unofficially backing FALK against LAUTENSCHLAGER because he feels Peg is too independent of his control and influence.

Then there is the GOP side of the equation. Paul BUCHER has been the Waukesha Co. Attorney General for 20 years now. Waukesha is a goldmine of Republican voters and BUCHER is counting on their support to carry him to the GOP nomination.

The other GOP candidate is J. B. VAN HOLLEN. Van HOLLEN worked in the Ashland & Bayfield Atty General's offices before being selected to be the US Attorney from Madison by President BUSH. The two Republicans are currently in a pissing contest over who is the most pure in supporting concealed carry legislation, who is the most opposed to abortion, and who is the most horrified over the prospects of gays being allowed to marry and live a typical American life. Van HOLLEN has received the endorsement of the Right to Life committee and indeed he has uttered several statements that would appear to place him in the Terry SCHAIVO fringe of the Social Conservative movement.

As to where these primaries appear to be at the moment. Peg and Kathleen are neck and neck in the Democratic primary. Among Democrats who have decided Peg leads 26 to 10 % with 29 undecided. But Wisconsin is an open primary state and while 1% of Democrats stated they intend to vote in another parties primary a whopping 26% of GOP voters claim they will cross party lines in the primary, and among GOP voters FALK leads LAUTENSCHLAGER 26 - 10. Apparently GOP voters perceive FALK as the weaker Democrat and are attempting to knock Peg off in the primary rather than having to take her down in a fair fight in the fall.

On the GOP side BUCHER leads VAN HOLLEN but the majority of GOP voters remain uncommitted. The numbers were approximately 15% backing BUCHER, 11% VAN HOLLEN and the remainder undecided or voting in the Dem primary. These numbers were released prior to Wisconsin Right to Life announcing it would endore J. B. VAN HOLLEN in the primary so a bump from that endorsement is expected.

In head to head match ups Peg tends to out preform FALK slightly against either GOP candidate and both Peg and Kathleen are running ahead of either GOP candidate, which does undercut the FALK campaign's claim that Peg is unelectable due to the DWI.

So the Wisconsin Attorney General's race will be one of the most fascinating in the nation in 2006.

Posted by: walja [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 03:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The AG post is an open seat this year, as incumbent Mike Hatch (DFL) is running for Governor. The gubernatorial race- along with the Klobuchar-Kennedy US Senate race and a couple of open seats in the US House- will probably lead to the overshadowing of the AG race.

That being said, here's a brief look at the AG Candidates:

DFL: Matt Entenza
Entenza is the current House Minority leader and represents a district in St. Paul. I've met him personally only once, but he seems like a strong politician who should be able to debate any issue. However, I think a couple of things are working against him. Hatch has been portrayed (not alltogether inaccurately) in the local media as highly partisan in his role as AG, and Entenza is a political insider in every way imaginable. Also, Hatch was named in a GOP ethics complaint 2 years ago after he and his wife contributed over $600,000 to various DFL causes. That being said, he should enjoy better name recognition than his GOP opponent, and will come across as highly intelligent in the local media.

GOP: Jeff Johnson
Johnson is a 3-term State House member from a Minneapolis suburb. I don't know a whole lot about him, other than what I've read recently. Last year, he authored a bill banning the over-the-counter sale of certain cold medicines that can be used in the production of meth. His website indicates that he will be running on the theme of making the AG office less partisan, which may resonate with voters.

Though there are several other races likely to receive more media attention in Minnesota this fall, Minnesota's electorate is probably the nation's most engaged, and I would seriously doubt if coattails from the Senate or Governor's races were the determining factor in this race. If you want to learn more, Minnesota Public Radio has a good website up covering the race.

Posted by: Max [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 04:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Max beat me to the punch, but here are my thoughts on the MN-AG race.....

Matt Entenza is a fantastic Democratic Party insider and an eloquent speaker. He'd be a great Attorney General, in keeping with the 40-year streak the DFL has in holding the AG office. Conventional wisdom is that name recognition (along with an expected DFL tide) will help him, but I have my concerns.

GOP opponent Jeff Johnson is reportedly the embodiment of "New Minnesota" yuppie-ism, very much in tune with Norm Coleman and Mark Kennedy. His geography (hometown in the second-ring Republican suburb of Plymouth) will be modestly helpful as this part of western Hennepin County has been trending away from the GOP...but likely to help him most is the sort of intangible that's beneath nearly every political scientist's radar, but weighs heavily in loosely contested statewide offices....and that intangible is surname ethnicity.

In a state like Minnesota, independent voters who haven't heard of either candidate are likely to yield their ultimate decision to the candidate that "sounds like he's one of them." In other words, if you're running for statewide office in heavily Norwegian Minnesota, having a surname like Johnson works to your advantage....having a surname like Entenza doesn't. Minnesota Secretary of State candidate Christian Sande discussed this with me at a Democratic function last fall, and expressed the same concern. Suffice it to say, he was optimistic about his own chances with the Norwegian surname "Sande".

Perhaps this factor is less prominent in more culturally diverse states, but up here in Little Scandinavia, I have no doubt at all that several low-profile statewide elections have been won or lost over it. Hopefully, Matt Entenza won't be a casualty of his own last name, but at the very least, I expect the race will be closer because of it.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 04:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is THE race in Ohio, other than the governor's race. In fact, it's probably the top primary on the Dem side. There's one good candidate endorsed by the party (Marc Dann) and one incredible Spitzer-like candidate who was overlooked by the party (Subodh Chandra), who is, without their endorsment, setting the state on fire.

State Senator Dann was indeed the guy who shoved Coingate in everyone's face last year when the Republicans were looking down their noses and saying it was all "partisan" and that now-indicted coindealer Tom Noe was really a great guy. Dann was relentless. Unfortunately, he's also had some small snafus in his legal practice that could be used against him including a reprimand. And he just doesn't seem as hungry and on fire as Chandra and lately has seemed peevish and snappy. Chandra was law director here in Cleveland and kicked ass! His campaign has been forceful, clear and convincing. He manages to get across simply and straightforwardly that he will be "the people's attorney." You go in (a lot of us did) thinking "Eh...some Indian-American guy, can't get votes in rural Ohio" and you walk out going "This guy could get anyone's vote." He's been racking up newspaper endorsements.

After the primary, we'll have Betty — Betty "Noe" Montgomery. Attorney General once before, now auditor. Term-limited out. Corrupt. Drowning in conflicts of interest. One of the Republicans who looked the other way when the Coingate scandal started to break, insisting Tom Noe was really a great guy! Took eight years before she audited it. Is currently refusing to audit the hanky-panky going on at charter schools that are big Republican donors. She seems to have an image as a "nice lady" and she dropped out of the Republican gubernatorial primary race, despite the support of many party regulars because she wasn't gaining traction among the frothy-mouthed religious extremists. She may be more moderate than some, but she has and will not safeguard the interests on the people of Ohio. She'll continue to warm a chair and take big campaign donations.

Subodh will kick ass. Go, Subodh!

Posted by: Ansatasia P [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 04:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In Arizona, incumbent Dem AG Terry Goddard, son of the former Governor Samuel Goddard, is incredibly popular -- probably the most popular state officeholder after McCain and Napolitano. Goddard dodged a big bullet when the Corporation Commission President Marc Spitzer decided not to challenge him this year. Attorney Bill Montgomery is the only challenger to date.

Goddard is a rising star in AZ -- an unlikely position for him given that he was also a rising star a long time ago. Goddard was the incredibly popular and liberal Mayor of Phoenix when he ran for Governor in 1990 to succeed Rose Mofford. Goddard was upset that year by Republican businessman Fife Symington, leading to twelve years of corrupt Republican rule (Symington was later convicted of securities fraud and had to resign). Goddard is considered the Dem frontrunner for Governor in 2010 against a growing field of Republican congressmen that now includes Rick Renzi, J. D. Hayworth, and Jeff Flake. The term-limited Napolitano will likely run for McCain's open Senate seat.

Posted by: Nonpartisan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 05:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The New Hampshire AG is appointed by the governor? I thought that Kelly Ayotte was a Republican. Did Lynch really appoint a Republican to the AG slot?

Posted by: Rob [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 05:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

If I remember correctly from assorted blurbs in articles leading up to 2004, PA has never elected a Republican attorney general since it became an elected position in the early 70's, although I am not sure how the position was filled before then or who appointed it. An interesting thing in PA though is we also have another elected position called auditor general, which also is Bob Casey Jr's first statewide elected postion, which is like a government watchdog. This has regularly been filled with a Democrat. So it seems that the people of PA have generally liked to have a Republican enforce the laws of the state, but a Democrat to make sure the government is being ethical in their government dealings. Just a thought and I hope I have my facts correct, I tried to verify them before writing this post but couldn't find anything one way or the other.

Posted by: stebu [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 07:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I would suspect that Janet will be appointed Attorney General in a Hillary Rodham Clinton Administration. Thus, the governorship would ascend to that hag Jan Brewer.

Posted by: boyblue [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 07:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I did some digging and answered my own question. Apparently Ayotte was appointed by Benson in July of 2004 and Lynch reappointed her to serve a full term (not sure what that is since NH governor is only two years). I can see his logic in reappointing her since she was only in there a few months and sounds more moderate than I'd heard she was.

Posted by: Rob [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 07:22 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thing is, Janet would make an excellent AG, but don't you think Spitzer would be appointed by a Dem Prez over Janet? Anyway, if that happens, I'm confident Terry Goddard could clean Brewer's clock. We'll be getting a deep bench in AZ this time around, when Gabby Giffords, Slade Mead, and Israel Torres are all elected to congress/statewide office. So I think we could fill the void quite nicely by then.

Posted by: Nonpartisan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 09:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think Spitzer would consider it a DEMOTION to go from a powerful governor of NY to US Attorney General.

Perhaps the only thing that would keep Napolitano from being US AG is the prospect of Republican Brewer ascending to the governorship and Janet's ambition to be a senator in John McCain's/Barry Goldwater's seat.

btw, who is Israel Torres? I like Giffords and think she's gonna win. I also think Harry Mitchell has a great shot against that fucking rodeo clown, JD Hayworth.

Posted by: boyblue [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2006 12:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Delaware--This is really an open seat. A democrat is only holding the seat until the 06 election, since he was appointed by our D governor, and approved by our Democrat majority state senate.

Beau Biden (Joe Biden's son) is running for us. I know nothing about him right now.

Republicans--Ferris Wharton. He seems like he is qualified (Deputy US Attorney and state positions). They've had this post since 1994 under M. Jane Brady, but she recently retired early in late 05 to become a judge.

If Roe v. Wade falls, it's the AG's decision on whether to enforce the current on-the-books anit-abortion law. So, a Democrat would probably be the best there though.

I'd honeestly say toss-up. Wharton does seem more qualified, but he is still a Republican...which means a total whack-job probably.

Posted by: Downstate Delaware Liberal [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2006 12:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Israel Torres, State Registrar of Contractors director, is the guy who's going to unseat Brewer.

I know this isn't appropriately partisan to say (though I do have to live up to my handle somehow!), but I met Jane Brady once and she's one of the most f-ing awesome politicians I've ever met. She took my two-year-old sister for a long walk and talked to her the whole time, and gave her a Scales of Justice pin. It was an event for a bunch of out-of-state high school students, and held in New York to boot, and not a single vote for her to pick up there. F-ing AWESOME.

Posted by: Nonpartisan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2006 02:19 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I worked against Jane Brady in 2002 and supported Vivian Houghton in the AG race. And I can say that Jane Brady came across as a F-ing WACKJOB. Total corporate whore.

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2006 09:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In your home AG race do not dicount the dark horse Denise O'Donnell. She is a career prosecutor, Catholic, women ,from Erie county. She is an able campaigner, has raised some money , recieved some favorable endorsements. She would be a good balance on the ticket and a great alternative to Mark Green , who has a long history of losing races or to Cuomo, who while performing well in the polls has shallow support. Many party people have long memories of being screwed by Andrew and Daddy(who still has a large warchest) back in the day.

Posted by: godems06 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2006 03:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In Nevada, the old Republican AG was appointed to the federal bench. The Republican governor appointed a guy named George Chanos, who almost immediately alienated seniors by opposing the state's plan to buy prescription drugs from Canada. The backlash against this scared Chanos so bad, he dropped out of the race for 2006. Now the Democrat, Catherine Cortez-Masto, is a lock. None of the top tier Republicans in the state will run against her, and even the second-tier appears to be hesitating. Aside from that, she's from a prominent political family in Las Vegas, which means now she can just spend the next 6 months fundraising for other candidates.

Posted by: Jim [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2006 06:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment