Updated: Attorneys General Race Ratings


With Election Day fast approaching, the outlook for Democrats is still ominous. The party is in danger of losing the U.S. House and Senate, and is poised to fall below a majority of the governorships and state legislatures. It is also about to lose a slew of attorney general offices -- its 32-to-18 edge over the Republicans continues to slip. Since Governing's last rating in October, changes from that analysis are modest but three more contests move one notch toward the Republican candidate. The race in Kansas changes from tossup to lean Republican, New York's race changes from lean Democratic to tossup and  the race in California moves from lean Republican to tossup.

Democrats could still lose between six and 13 posts. If they suffer a net loss of just six seats, the Democrats would hold on to their now-solid majority, though by just a single seat. But if the Democrats were to lose a net 13 seats, they'd see the GOP take the lead by the same 3-to-2 margin they currently enjoy.

Click on a state below to get more details on any of the 30 state attorney general races, including current party control, candidates, race predictions and an assessment of each state race.

 

Likely D

N/R

  • Not rated because the office is appointed, or is not up for election this fall.

NOTE: Two states with appointed AGs could see a partisan switch in governor this fall. Hawaii is favored to flip from Republican to Democratic, while Wyoming is favored to flip from Democratic to Republican. No change is expected in two other states with appointed AGs, so these changes would cancel each other out in terms of partisan balance. Meanwhile, in Maine, where the legislature chooses the AG, the Democrats are expected to continue to hold a majority.

  • ALABAMA

    • Likely R
    • Current AG:
      Troy King (R)
      lost in primary contest
    • Open Seat:
      James Anderson (D)
      Luther Strange (R)
    • Primary:
      June 1, 2010

    Democrat James Anderson, a relatively unknown Montgomery attorney, is making his best effort, but Birmingham attorney Luther Strange benefits from the state's deeply conservative lean, especially in a midterm election. Strange remains the heavy favorite.

  • ARIZONA

    • Lean R
    • Current AG:
      Terry Goddard (D)
      running for governor
    • Open Seat:
      Felecia Rotellini (D)
      Tom Horne (R)
    • Primary:
      August 24, 2010

    Tom Horne, the current superintendent of public instruction, narrowly defeated former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, a favorite of conservatives, in a bitter and very close primary. Horne is now the favorite in the general election against Felecia Rotellini, the former director of the Department of Financial Institutions. Rotellini has received the endorsement of a handful of prominent Republicans, including a co-chairman of GOP Gov. Jan Brewer's reelection campaign. She also earned the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, citing her temperament and managerial skills. But in a year in which anti-immigration sentiment is paramount in Arizona, Horne's approach seems more in tune with likely voters. Horne supports the state's controversial illegal-immigration law, whereas Rotellini opposes the law saying it does not make the border more secure. She faces a challenging climb.

  • ARKANSAS

    • Safe D
    • Current AG:
      Dustin McDaniel (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Rebekah Kennedy (G)
      Marc Rosson (R)
    • Primary:
      May 18, 2010

    Arkansas may be rushing headlong into the arms of the Republican Party in national contests, but the state GOP couldn't even muster an official candidate to challenge one-term Democratic incumbent Dustin McDaniel, who faces Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy and Republican write-in candidate Marc Rosson. Rosson's opposition to the new health-care law could draw some votes, but he's not even an attorney, and his write-in status represents a serious hurdle. McDaniel -- an expected candidate to succeed Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe in 2014 -- is the overwhelming favorite.

  • CALIFORNIA

    • Tossup
    • Current AG:
      Jerry Brown (D)
      running for governor
    • Open Seat:
      Kamala D. Harris (D)
      Steve Cooley (R)
      Peter Allen (G)
      Tim Hannan (L)
      Diane Beall Templin (AI)
      Robert J. Evans (PF)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    The Republican candidate for attorney general, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, has been the favorite since the start of the race, given his traditional law-and-order agenda in a state that, despite its often liberal leanings, prefers that approach for its AG. Democrat Kamala Harris, by contrast, is a San Francisco D.A. who has drawn criticism for declining to seek the death penalty in high-profile cases, including one in which a police officer was murdered. As recently as the week before the election, we were calling this a lean Republican race, but polling has shown the race narrowing, with Harris possibly benefiting from the improved chances of her fellow Democrats on the ballot โ€“ Jerry Brown for governor and Barbara Boxer for Senate. A Los Angeles Times-University of Southern California poll showed Cooley up, 40 percent to 35 percent; a Field poll showed Cooley up, 39 percent to 38 percent; and a Suffolk University poll showed Harris up by one. Such results โ€“ especially with high rates of undecided voters โ€“ suggests a classic tossup race, so at this late date, we're switching the call from lean Republican to tossup.

    (G) - Green Party, (L) - Libertarian, (AI) - American Independent, (PF) - Peace and Freedom

  • COLORADO

    • Likely R
    • Current AG:
      John Suthers (R)
    • Opponent(s):
      Stan Garnett (D)
    • Primary:
      August 10, 2010

    Republican John Suthers was appointed in 2005 and elected to a full term in 2006. Now seeking a second full term, Suthers is facing an upstart challenge by Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett. Garnett is considered a quality candidate, but he faces a tough climb against a battle-tested incumbent running in a Republican year. The Republican meltdown in Colorado, with a baggage-laden Tea Party candidate as the party's gubernatorial standard-bearer, remains a wild card, but anti-immigration, third-party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo should gin up some conservative turnout. This race is Suthers' to lose.

  • CONNECTICUT

    • Lean D
    • Current AG:
      Richard Blumenthal (D)
      running for Senate
    • Open Seat:
      George C. Jepsen (D)
      Martha Dean (R)
    • Primary:
      August 10, 2010

    Democrat George Jepsen, a former state Senate majority leader, remains the favorite to succeed fellow Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who's running for Senate. Republicans are being held back by their nominee, attorney Martha Dean. Dean is running from the right, which isn't the most natural strategy for Connecticut, even this year, and she trails Jepsen badly in campaign cash. Were it not for the unpredictability of this election year, we'd rate this race likely Democratic. As it is, we're calling it lean Democratic.

  • DELAWARE

    • Safe D
    • Current AG:
      Beau Biden (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Unopposed
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    Democrat Beau Biden -- son of Vice President Joe Biden -- is on his way to a second term as attorney general as there's no Republican in the race.

  • FLORIDA

    • Tossup
    • Current AG:
      Bill McCollum (R)
      lost in primary contest
    • Open Seat:
      Dan Gelber (D)
      Pam Bondi (R)
    • Primary:
      August 24, 2010

    Republican Pam Bondi should benefit from the state's Republican tilt this year in her race against Democrat Dan Gelber. But the state's politics are volatile enough that we're keeping the race at tossup.

  • GEORGIA

    • Lean R
    • Current AG:
      Thurbert Baker (D)
      lost in primary contest
    • Open Seat:
      Ken Hodges (D)
      Samuel S. Olens (R)
      Don Smart (L)
    • Primary:
      July 20, 2010

    Sam Olens, the former chair of the Cobb County Commission and former head of the Atlanta Regional Commission, remains the favorite against Democrat Ken Hodges, a former district attorney from rural Albany. Hodges is trying to out-conservative Olens, but in a Republican year and a Republican state, the GOP label is likely to prevail. Hodges is as credible a candidate as his party could have produced, but we still call this race lean Republican.

  • IDAHO

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Lawrence Wasden (R)
    • Opponent(s):
      Unopposed
    • Primary:
      May 25, 2010

    Two-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, a Republican, should have no trouble winning a third term; he is unopposed.

  • ILLINOIS

    • Safe D
    • Current AG:
      Lisa Madigan (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Stephen H. Kim (R)
      Joseph S. Bell (C)
      David F. Black (G)
      William Malan (L)
    • Primary:
      February 2, 2010

    The current attorney general, Democrat Lisa Madigan, remains the heavy favorite over little-known Republican challenger Steve Kim.

    (C) - Constitution, (G) - Green Party, (L) - Libertarian

  • IOWA

    • Tossup
    • Current AG:
      Tom Miller (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Brenna Findley (R)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    Democrats feel confident that Attorney General Tom Miller will win his eighth four-year term, but the hit the party is taking in Iowa this year -- Democratic Gov. Chet Culver seems just this side of toast, and GOP registration is rising as Democratic registration falls -- compels us to keep this a tossup. The GOP challenger is Brenna Findley, who is relatively inexperienced, but at 34 is the same age as Miller when he was first elected -- something that's become a key Findley talking point. She's running an aggressive campaign, probably more so than Miller ran until late in the game. But Findley is from the conservative wing of the GOP, and she hasn't put this one away yet. Miller's best shot at keeping his job is probably to put together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who are voting for the Republican gubernatorial nominee, former Gov. Terry Branstad.

  • KANSAS

    • Lean R
    • Current AG:
      Steve Six (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Derek Schmidt (R)
    • Primary:
      August 3, 2010

    It's expected to be a brutal election for Kansas Democrats this year, but incumbent Attorney General Steve Six is as strong a Democrat as the party has running in the state. He faces state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, a strong candidate. After keeping the race at tossup since the summer, we're finally moving this to lean Republican, though Six is hardly out of the running.

  • MARYLAND

    • Safe D
    • Current AG:
      Doug Gansler (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Unopposed
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    Attorney General Doug Gansler faces a smooth path to a second term -- he has no Republican opposition.

  • MASSACHUSETTS

    • Lean D
    • Current AG:
      Martha Coakley (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      James McKenna (R)
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    Improbably, James McKenna, a prosecutor for 10 years, qualified via a write-in campaign for the previously vacant GOP spot on the Massachusetts attorney general ballot. He's still little known compared to incumbent Democratic AG Martha Coakley, and this is still the historically Democratic Bay State. But the national Republican wave, combined with Coakley's hapless loss in the race to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, leads us to keep this race in the competitive category, at lean Democratic.

  • MICHIGAN

    • Likely R
    • Current AG:
      Mike Cox (R)
      not running for reelection due to term limits
    • Open Seat:
      David Leyton (D)
      Bill Schuette (R)
      Daniel W. Grow (L)
    • Primary:
      N/A

    Michigan remains a tough nut for Democrats to crack this year, given their control of the governorship during an awful recession in the state. Former U.S. representative and judge Bill Schuette, a Republican, remains the favorite over Democratic Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton for the attorney general position being vacated by two-term Republican Mike Cox.

    (L) - Libertarian

  • MINNESOTA

    • Likely D
    • Current AG:
      Lori Swanson (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Chris Barden (R)
      Bill Dahn (IP)
    • Primary:
      August 10, 2010

    In Minnesota, the rare Midwestern state where the top-of-the-ticket outlook doesn't look atrocious for the Democrats, Democratic incumbent Lori Swanson is still the favorite in the race for attorney general. Little-known GOP nominee Chris Barden hasn't made much headway, and trails in the money race by a massive amount. A potential wild card is Independence Party candidate Bill Dahn, but for now, keep it at likely Democratic.



    (IP) - Independence Party

  • NEBRASKA

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Jon Bruning (R)
    • Opponent(s):
      Unopposed
    • Primary:
      May 11, 2010

    Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the immediate past president of the National Association of Attorneys General, will have no trouble winning a third term. The popular Republican is unopposed.

  • NEVADA

    • Lean D
    • Current AG:
      Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Travis Barrick (R)
      Joel F. Hansen (AI)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    A Mason-Dixon poll in September confirmed observers' sense of this race -- it had first-term incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto up by double digits against the little-known GOP nominee, Travis Barrick. This remains Masto's contest to lose, but her mediocre reviews by politicos in both parties leave us reluctant to rate the race any stronger for her than lean Democratic. One source compared it to the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle, in the sense that "anyone who knows either candidate wishes they had another choice."

    (AI) - American Independent

  • NEW MEXICO

    • Lean D
    • Current AG:
      Gary King (D)
    • Opponent(s):
      Matthew Chandler (R)
    • Primary:
      June 1, 2010

    First-term Democratic incumbent Gary King -- the son of popular former Gov. Bruce King -- leads Republican Matt Chandler, an experienced district attorney, by double digits in two Albuquerque Journal polls. King also leads in the money race. Democrats in New Mexico, as elsewhere, are having a rough year, with Republican gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez running strong. But Chandler is underperforming Martinez. We're keeping this race at lean Democratic.

  • NEW YORK

    • Tossup
    • Current AG:
      Andrew Cuomo (D)
      running for governor
    • Open Seat:
      Eric Schneiderman (D)
      Dan Donovan (R)
      Stephen J. Lynch (I)
      Carl E. Person (L)
      Amy S. Young (WF)
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    Eric Schneiderman, an energetic, union-backed Manhattan state senator and former prosecutor running as a reformer-crusader, survived a cutthroat, five-way Democratic primary to succeed Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who's running for governor. He faces Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, as well as three minor-party candidates. Polling shows the race close, which convinces us to move this contest from lean Democratic to tossup, though we put a finger lightly on the Democratic side, given the drag of controversial Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino.

    (I) - Independent, (L) - Libertarian, (WF) - Working Families

  • NORTH DAKOTA

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Wayne Stenehjem (R)
    • Opponent(s)
      Jean Boechler (D)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    Republican Wayne Stenehjem has served as attorney general since 2000, and he should be able to extend that streak with ease. His Democratic opponent is Jean Boechler, a Fargo attorney and political novice. Call it safe Republican.

  • OHIO

    • Tossup
    • Current AG:
      Richard Cordray (D)
    • Opponent(s)
      Mike DeWine (R)
      Robert M. Owens (C)
      Marc Allan Feldman (L)
    • Primary:
      May 4, 2010

    Republican Mike DeWine, a former U.S. senator, is making a strong run at incumbent Democrat Richard Cordray. One Republican poll had DeWine up by double digits, but Cordray is spending aggressively and proving to be a resilient candidate. A slight improvement in the fortunes of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland recently helps Cordray as well. But in swing-state Ohio, we're not ready to nudge this one in either direction. It stays a tossup.

    (C) - Constitution, (L) - Libertarian

  • OKLAHOMA

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Drew Edmondson (D)
      lost in primary contest
    • Open Seat:
      Jim Priest (D)
      Scott Pruitt (R)
    • Primary:
      July 27, 2010

    Republican Scott Pruitt, a former state senator, recently sold the Oklahoma City Red Hawks, a minor league baseball team, leaving him with additional cash to mount what was already a strong bid for the Democratic-held vacancy. Jim Priest, a Democratic attorney from Oklahoma City, is highly thought of in local legal circles -- but barely known by other Oklahomans. In a good Republican year in a strongly Republican state, we rate the race safe Republican.

  • RHODE ISLAND

    • Lean D
    • Current AG:
      Patrick Lynch (D)
      not running for reelection due to term limits
    • Open Seat:
      Peter Kilmartin (D)
      Erik B. Wallin (R)
      Christopher H. Little (MP)
      Keven McKenna (I)
      Robert Rainville (I)
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    The five-way race for Rhode Island attorney general remains overshadowed by hot races for governor, a Congressional seat and the mayor of Providence, but former House Majority Whip Peter Kilmartin, the Democratic nominee, remains the favorite. The crowded field includes Republican Erik Wallin, a former Air Force JAG running on an anti-corruption platform; Moderate Party candidate Chris Little, who is a trial lawyer, former board president of Save the Bay and the former state chair of Common Cause; and independents Robert Rainville, a defense attorney, and Kevin McKenna, a former legislator, municipal court judge, assistant attorney general and anti-abortion advocate. Kilmartin is potentially vulnerable for being a political insider, but the fractured field and Democratic lean of the state leads us to stick with a lean Democratic rating for now.

    (MP) - Moderate Party, (I) - Independent

  • SOUTH CAROLINA

    • Likely R
    • Current AG:
      Henry McMaster (R)
      running for governor
    • Open Seat:
      Matthew Richardson (D)
      Michael Alan Wilson (R)
      Leslie Minerd (GP)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    Republican lawyer Alan Wilson -- stepson of GOP Rep. Joe Wilson, who famously shouted "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's address to Congress in 2009 -- is a strong favorite over Democratic lawyer Matthew Richardson, given the state's Republican tilt. Were Richardson any weaker a challenger, it would be easy to call this contest safe Republican, but the Democrat has just enough credibility to convince us to keep it at likely Republican for now.

    (GP) - Green Party

  • SOUTH DAKOTA

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Marty J. Jackley (R)
    • Opponent(s)
      Ron Volesky (D)
    • Primary:
      June 8, 2010

    Republican Marty Jackley was appointed attorney general in 2009 and is heavily favored to win a full term this fall against former state senator and frequent candidate Ron Volesky, a Republican-turned Democrat. The Democrats haven't held the South Dakota attorney general office since 1974.

  • TEXAS

    • Safe R
    • Current AG:
      Greg Abbott (R)
    • Opponent(s)
      Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D)
      Barry Cooper (L)
      Jerald Finney (C)
      Jon Roland (L)
      Ruben D. Torres (I)
    • Primary:
      March 2, 2010

    Incumbent Republican Greg Abbott is seeking a third term against Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky, an attorney from Houston. Radnofsky is feisty and ran statewide (though unsuccessfully) against Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2006. Abbott is popular, well-funded and running in a conservative state in a strong GOP year. In September, an independent poll found Abbott leading by 17 points. Keep it safe Republican.

    (L) - Libertarian, (C) - Constitution, (I) - Independent

  • VERMONT

    • Safe D
    • Current AG:
      William Sorrell (D)
    • Opponent(s)
      Aaron Michael Toscano (R)
      Charlotte Dennett (P)
      Rosemarie Jackowski (LU/SP), Karen Kerin (L)
    • Primary:
      August 24, 2010

    Democrat William Sorrell, Vermont's attorney general since 1997, is the heavy favorite to win another term.

    (P) - Progressive, (LU/SP) - Liberty Union/Socialist Party USA, (L) - Libertarian

  • WISCONSIN

    • Likely R
    • Current AG:
      J.B. Van Hollen (R)
    • Opponent(s)
      Scott Hassett (D)
    • Primary:
      September 14, 2010

    Amid what is looking like a very good year Republicans in Wisconsin, first-term Republican J.B. Van Hollen appears to be in good shape against Democrat Scott Hassett, a former Department of Natural Resources secretary. Hassett has been trying to make an issue of the fact that Van Hollen knew of allegations months ago that local prosecutor Ken Kratz had "sexted" a domestic violence victim while prosecuting her attacker. But Van Hollen's role in the episode is complicated, and so far, the criticism doesn't appear to be damaging the incumbent. We'll keep this one at likely Republican.


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