Elections 2020: Democratic AGs Hold Strong in Key Battleground States
November 17, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) played a major role in re-electing North Carolina AG Josh Stein and Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro in tough battleground states. Defending Democratic Attorneys General incumbents is a critical component to how we bolster a Biden-Harris administration and continue to keep extremist GOP leaders in check. These critical wins come after a year of record-breaking fundraising of $21 million across all entities that helped fuel DAGA’s electoral strategy to protect incumbents and hold the GOP accountable by creating competitive races in red and purple states.
“In 2020, DAGA set out to bring our incumbents across the finish line in top tier battleground states and force the GOP to spend money in previously safe seats, and we delivered,” said Sean Rankin, Executive Director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association. “DAGA—and Democratic AGs—have proven time and time again the value of investing in this office, and with a now conservative-majority on the Supreme Court, having strong Democratic leaders in the states has never been more important.”
The victories in North Carolina and Pennsylvania build on DAGA’s historic success starting in the 2016 cycle. Since the 2016 revamp of the committee, DAGA has won 11 out of 15 targeted races going head-to-head with the Republican Attorneys General Association. This cycle, DAGA’s investments contributed to RAGA spending millions on candidates in the battleground states and expending extra resources to shore up struggling incumbents in states like West Virginia.
“We faced a tough map this year, and through smart campaigns and strategic investing, we were able to expand the map, and push the other side to spend in states previously considered safe,” said Farah Melendez, Political Director at the Democratic Attorneys General Association. “In 2020, we flexed some new muscles that will be in even better shape as we jump into 2021 and our big map in 2022.”
With national attention on the Republican AG-led health care repeal lawsuit being heard by a now conservative-majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the ongoing public health crisis caused by COVID-19, access to affordable health care including protections for pre-existing conditions was a top voting issue in the key battleground states. This cycle, state AG races centered on access to affordable health care.
“It’s clear that voters know that Democrats are the party of health care. There is no clearer distinction than Democratic AGs on one side fighting to protect health care and Republican AGs on the other trying to take it away,” said DAGA Co-Chair Massachusetts AG Maura Healey. “Thankfully, the message was heard loud and clear and we re-elected my Democratic AG colleagues Josh Shapiro and Josh Stein, true health care champions, in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.”
In addition to health care messaging, a key element of DAGA’s election strategy involves DAGA’s volunteer-to-voter texting program. In total, across all 2020 states & programs, DAGA has reached nearly 3.8 million people to talk about the importance of state AGs.
“With a presidential election, a global pandemic, and a national movement calling for racial equity, it was imperative in 2020 to find new ways to reach voters about the importance of state AG races,” added DAGA Co-Chair Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum. “DAGA used its texting program to contact millions of voters to discuss the work Democratic AGs are doing to protect reproductive rights and health care, to fight hate, and to build a better future for all Americans. We know people care about these issues, and it was important to share with voters that Democratic AGs are fighting for them.”
As part of DAGA’s plan to hold the GOP accountable, DAGA exposed Republican AG extremism throughout the 2020 cycle. From flirting with QAnon conspiracies to doubling down on destroying health care, the Republican AGs are resorting to extreme positions that require spreading lies and fearmongering. As RAGA and Republican AGs continue to lean farther to the extreme right, DAGA will continue to call out their dangerous behavior.
“Regardless of who occupies the White House or controls Congress, so much of what impacts us every day happens at the state AG level and that is why it’s so important we don’t let the extremism we see from Republican AGs and the Trump-packed courts go unchecked,” added Rankin. “Rest assured, we are already preparing for the big fights ahead and looking forward to continuing to grow our team of diverse, dynamic, legal powerhouses that are the Democratic Attorneys General.”
For more on how health care shaped the 2020 election, check out this memo here.