Louis Jacobson is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an awful night for Democrats on many levels of government. But it was not as awful as it could have been in the state attorney general races.
Whereas the Democrats lost control of the U.S. House, the governorships and a slew of legislative chambers, they should be able to hold on to a bare majority of AG offices.
The Democrats lost at least five AG seats they held on Election Night, but four of these (Arizona, Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma) were in solidly Republican states, and all of these contests but Kansas were for an open seat. The one generally competitive state where the Republicans flipped an AG slot was Ohio.
But the Democrats staved off worse results by retaining six of their endangered seats, four of them in the Democratic stronghold of the Northeast. The Democrats retained AG slots in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island -- all of these but Massachusetts were open seats -- while also retaining seats held by endangered incumbents in more marginal states, Iowa and Nevada.
The GOP managed to keep the one endangered Republican-held seat: Florida’s.
The big race that was not yet called as of about 6 a.m. ET this morning was California. In that contest, Republican Steve Cooley had moved into an early lead, but Democrat Kamala Harris was eating away at that margin.
Leaving aside California, the net gain for the GOP was at least five AG seats. California, if Cooley wins, would make it six. But that’s on the low end of the scale of victories they could have chalked up. In its last pre-election handicapping, Governing predicted GOP gains of between six and 13 seats.
Before Election Night, the Democrats held a 32-to-18 edge in AG offices. Of these 50 positions, 43 are popularly elected, with the remaining seven appointed by a governor, the Legislature or the state Supreme Court.
Of the 43 elected seats, the Democrats currently control 27 to the Republicans' 16. And of those 43, a total of 30 are being contested this fall, of which the Democrats currently hold 19.
Depending on how California shakes out, the GOP will now control either 21 or 22 of 43 elected seats, and 23 or 24 of all AG offices. That means that the Democrats seem assured of keeping their narrow edge in AG offices.
Want to chat about these election results? Join Lou Jacobson and GOVERNING today at 2 p.m. ET for a post-election online live chat. GOVERNING will start accepting your questions at 9 a.m. ET.
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