Democrats Pick Up 4 Seats So Far in AG Races

If they ultimately flip the four seats where they have the lead, the party would take the majority of attorney general seats nationwide.
by | November 7, 2018
Democrat Josh Kaul narrowly defeated incumbent AG Brad Schimel in Wisconsin. (AP/Morry Gash)

The 2018 state attorney general races included a number of close contests, but after the polls closed, the Democrats were poised to flip four Republican-held seats if current results hold.

Going into Election Day, the GOP held 27 attorney general offices, the Democrats' 22 and one nonpartisan seat was appointed by Alaska's independent governor. Of those, 30 elected seats were up this cycle -- 18 held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats.

If the Democrats ultimately flip the four seats where they have the lead, they would take a majority of AG seats -- 26 to 23.

The four seats with Democratic leads early on Wednesday morning included one contest with a Republican incumbent: Wisconsin’s Brad Schimel, who was narrowly trailing his Democratic challenger, Josh Kaul. Schimel’s fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker, also fell to a Democrat, Tony Evers.

The other three attorney general seats that appear to be Democratic flips were all open seats. Democrat Phil Weiser was leading in Colorado, while Dana Nessel was up in Michigan and Aaron Ford in Nevada.

The highest-profile attorney general race in the nation appears to have ended up in teh Democrats' hands. In Minnesota, Democrat Keith Ellison defeated Republican Doug Wardlow despite contending with allegations of domestic abuse. Ellison’s margin of victory was about four points, notably narrower than the Democratic margins in the state’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Democrats also successfully defended one vulnerable open seat in Illinois, where Kwame Raoul defeated Republican Erika Harold. The Party was also leading in the race to fill a vulnerable open seat in Connecticut, as William Tong was narrowly ahead of Sue Hatfield.

The biggest Republican attorney general victories of the night came from defending a few vulnerable seats.

In Florida, Republican Ashley Moody defeated Democrat Sean Shaw to take a Republican-held open seat. Moody’s share of the vote was several percentage points higher than either of the two Republicans at the top of the ballot, gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott.

And in Ohio, Republican Dave Yost defeated Democrat Steve Dettelbach by about five points.

Meanwhile, Republicans held two seats that we had rated lean Republican: Incumbents Mark Brnovich in Arizona and Alan Wilson in South Carolina were reelected. The GOP was also leading in a third seat rated lean Republican, the one held by Georgia AG Chris Carr.

The other attorney general seats that were considered likely or strongly for either party remained in that party’s hands.