35 Days, 35 Seats—The Most Important Race on the Ballot in November: State AG
October 2, 2018
Coined as “the down-ballot officials who could freeze the Trump Train in its tracks” by the Washington Post and as “The Most Effective Way for Democrats to Fight Trump’s Agenda” by Mother Jones—state Attorneys General races are front and center for not only party leaders like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris, but for voters across the country. Democratic Attorneys General are on the front lines, fighting back against the turbulent Trump administration and GOP on key issues including:
- The Republican AG-led lawsuit to dismantle affordable healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions;
- Trump and GOP efforts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and
- Trump and GOP work to rollback reproductive rights like stripping funding for Planned Parenthood family planning services and upending employee contraception coverage.
Additionally, Democratic AGs are stepping up to fill a vacuum left by a Congress that refuses to perform its constitutional duty as a check on Trump. In fact, New Mexico AG Hector Balderas told The New York Times that Democratic AGs were “becoming, potentially, the fourth branch of government.” Just take the recent victory stopping the distribution of 3-D gun blueprints, that wasn’t the House or the Senate—it was Democratic AGs. They have become “the muscle of the resistance”—and are continuing to win in court.
With 35 AG seats on the map this November, the value and necessity of electing Democratic AGs has never been more important to guaranteeing protections for all those that live and work in America. As we cross the 35-day mark to the November Midterms, the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) is gearing up to pick up a historic number of Democratic attorneys general seats in 2018. Earlier this cycle, the Democratic National Committee and DAGA spotlighted key flip opportunities with January Contreras in Arizona, Phil Weiser in Colorado, Aaron Ford in Nevada, Steve Dettelbach in Ohio, and Josh Kaul in Wisconsin. With historic Democratic turn-out in the primaries, continued strong performance from Democratic AG candidates, and record-breaking fundraising from the committee, the opportunities to flip seats from red-to-blue is now even expanding to southern states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas.
Sean Shaw is the first African American Democratic Attorney General nominee in Florida and when he wins in November, he will be the first African American Attorney General in the state’s history. Sean Shaw is a tireless fighter for the middle class and working families—he fought for more public-school funding, expanded access to affordable healthcare, and he took on big insurance companies when they ripped off homeowners. He’s also pledged to join Democratic AGs in fighting to protect healthcare by dropping Florida from the GOP-led lawsuit and he’s announced he would join District of Columba AG Karl Racine and Maryland AG Brian Frosh on the Emoluments lawsuit against President Trump. As we all know, Trump has significant holdings in Florida.
In November, Shaw will face Republican nominee Ashely Moody. Recent polling shows Shaw leading Moody by five-points. As the Insurance Consumer Advocate, Shaw worked to protect consumers from price gouging and insurance fraud. As an attorney in private practice, Shaw fought for victims of the BP Oil Spill and as a leader in the state legislature, Shaw continues to fight for consumers and champion equal rights opportunity for all.
As a prosecutor and former Senior Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County, Bailey has worked with law enforcement and leadership to crack down on crime and corruption. That is why he earned the endorsement of key law enforcement officers and associations like the Benevolent Police Association (PBA) and International Brotherhood of Police Officers(IBPO). As Attorney General, Bailey will put his experience to use by standing with local police and prosecutors to keep our neighborhoods safe, crack down on companies that exploit and defraud Georgians, and hold corrupt politicians accountable.
In November, Bailey will face Republican incumbent Chris Carr, who was appointed by Governor Deal in 2016 to fill a vacancy. Carr has never run for statewide office or prosecuted a case in the state of Georgia.
Bailey’s actual legal experience is a much-needed change to the Georgia AG office. For more on how he will support the people of Georgia, check out his convention speech here..
Constance Anastopoulo is an experienced litigator who has built on her courtroom successes to become a leading expert on insurance and ethics law. She is running a competitive campaign against Republican incumbent Alan Wilson, who recently came under fire for slow-boating complaints about 118 businesses for price gouging made by victims of Hurricane Florence. According to The State, Wilson called price gouging “the normal effects of supply and demand.”
This is the latest in a shameful pattern by Wilson of putting the interests of his wealthy donors and the powerful above the people of South Carolina. Wilson faces allegations that he tried to derail a public corruption investigation into GOP political operative Richard Quinn and his son, former state Rep. Rick Quinn – his political cronies.
South Carolina deserves an AG who will stand up for consumers and the people. Anastopoulo will hold both politicians and price gougers accountable. The people of South Carolina will come first with Constance Anastopoulo.
Justin Nelson was the first DAGA endorsed candidate of the cycle, and he has continued to run an outstanding race against incumbent Ken Paxton who has been under indictment for 3 years and who is leading the fight to steal away healthcare protections for millions of Texas families. The Texas race is a barometer on the elevation of AG races and on the rising national conversation around healthcare and other important issues like integrity and fairness under the law.
A former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Nelson went on to specialize in high-stakes civil rights litigation at Susman Godfrey LLP. TheHouston-native’s tireless defense of underserved communities caught the attention of Democratic donors early and recent public polling also shows Justin Nelson within only 1 point of Paxton.
For what were formerly under the radar campaigns, AG elections are on track to see more than $100 million in spending in 2018. Republican and right-wing funders have made the office of attorney general a key target, and we all need to understand what is at stake in 2018: 35 Attorney General seats, 32 of which are elected positions. That number includes 14 seats currently held by Democrats and 18 held by Republicans. The other three seats will be appointed by newly-elected governors.
In 2016, DAGA moved its headquarters from Denver to Washington, D.C. and for the first time hired a full-time Executive Director, Sean Rankin and subsequently a full-time staff. DAGA continues to use innovation, data, and communication to make a difference in the coordinated fight against the Trump Administration – resulting in substantive wins.
And coming off the first two state election cycles as a revamped committee, DAGA saw key battleground state wins in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and most recently, Virginia. As we head into the final month of the Midterms, DAGA is continuing to change the game when it comes to elevating the importance of these races and expanding the opportunity to flip seats from red-to-blue. In fact, as of this month, we have reached more than 3 million voters through the organization’s first-of-its-kind volunteer-to-voter education texting program.
In 2018, DAGA has invested in more states than ever before—and the map is primed to see Democratic AGs take back the majority of AG seats nationwide. Through its aggressive recruitment effort, DAGA assembled the most diverse class of attorney general candidates in history.
These next 35 days are critical to protecting our democracy, but if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last two years, it’s that when voters know who their AG candidate is—and the issues on which that candidate stands—voters pick the Democrat, and in 2018, we expect big wins.