Why Do State Attorney General Races Matter?
While many voters may not be in the know when it comes to the race for Attorney General in their state, this particular election race is one that an increasing number of donors are beginning to support. Donor spending to support Attorney General races, particularly on the Republican side, have seen marked increases in recent years as Democratic Attorney Generals have typically dominated the majority of the seats.
But what is it about these races that is so attractive to donors, and why should more voters study up on candidates before casting their votes at the polls? First, it’s important to understand the duties and job description of an Attorney General. Typically speaking, an Attorney General is often known as the “people’s lawyer”, advocating for things such as consumer rights and fair labor laws. Many Attorney Generals also go on to hold higher seats, such as Governor or senator.
Historically speaking, Attorney Generals have advocated for initiatives such as worker rights, fair compensation and wages, and a general representation of public interest. When it comes to legislation, Attorney Generals also wield a fair amount of power. This has also played into the increase in donor support, as some have called this a “weaponization” of the position given the potential power for legislation that could all but disarm an administration.
Others point to the increase in visibility of these races as a form of deepening a partisan bench, with the intent that eventually an Attorney General may step into a higher position. This investment, so to speak, is one that many are getting behind in order to solidify a stronger position in the future.
Why should voters care about an Attorney General’s platform? Because most often, their interests are what will be at stake when an AG goes after an employer for worker rights or when they bring a consumer protection lawsuit. Voters would much rather have their own jobs and work environment protected rather than give their employers more power. Voting the right Attorney General for their state in could have a far-reaching impact on this outcome.
It can be difficult to rally voter interest around a race that doesn’t quite grab the same amount of media attention and headlines as something higher profile such as a senate race or a presidential election. However, it’s in the voters’ best interest to ensure that they are properly educated about all candidates on a ballot. When presented with a ballot full of candidates with which a voter is widely unfamiliar, often their solution is to simply vote blindly along party lines. To combat this, a proper campaign seeking to educate voters about the platform and outcome of voting a specific candidate into office is highly valuable.
Attorney General races will likely see more media attention in coming election cycles, particularly as the balance of power shifts between the two major parties. Voters should make a conscious effort to educate themselves on the candidates on their ballot, and candidates should also make a clear effort to put forth a campaign that connects with voters and inspires them to get out and make an educated vote.
Daniel Cameron has recently won a heated primary for the Republican nomination for Attorney General of Kentucky. Cameron is an attorney at the moment, and his only involvement in politics up to this point has been as a staff lawyer for Mitch McConnell. Read more about Daniel Cameron here.