Tagattorney general

Five candidates running in California Attorney General primary

Five candidates are running in a top-two primary for California Attorney General on June 7, 2022. Incumbent Rob Bonta (D), Nathan Hochman (R), and Anne Marie Schubert (I) have led in media attention and fundraising. Eric Early (R) and Daniel Kapelovitz (G) are also running in the primary election.

The Los Angeles Times’ Hannah Wiley wrote, “The most contentious and closely watched California election in 2022 is likely to be the race for attorney general, where voters will choose in June from the liberal incumbent who was appointed to the job last year, three unheralded challengers and an openly gay career prosecutor whose campaign could hinge on the public’s new fears about crime.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Bonta on March 24, 2021. Bonta is a former Democratic member of the California General Assembly, representing District 18 from 2012 until his appointment. Bonta’s campaign website said. “As California’s Attorney General and California’s chief law officer, Bonta is the ‘attorney for the people’ and holds those who break the law – especially those in positions of power – accountable and wins justice for California families.”

Hochman served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California and Assistant Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice. Hochman also worked as a defense attorney, civil litigator, and appellate counsel. Hochman said his “360-degree perspective allows me to be in the best position to evaluate those who constitute true public safety threats and must be incarcerated from those who don’t pose such threats and can serve their debt to society through, for example, community service.”

Schubert worked as Sacramento County District Attorney, Supervising Deputy District Attorney of the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, and Deputy District Attorney of Contra Costa and Solano Counties. “As a real prosecutor and California’s next attorney general, I will have the constitutional authority to step in when a local district attorney isn’t doing his or her job. I believe we must stand up for crime victims and return order to the justice system,” Schubert said.

Democrats have occupied the office of attorney general in California since 1999. Xavier Becerra (D) occupied the office before Bonta, serving from 2019 to 2021 when he was confirmed as U.S. secretary of health and human services.

South Dakota House impeaches state attorney general for actions related to 2020 fatal crash

The South Dakota House of Representatives impeached Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) on April 12 for his actions related to a car accident that killed a pedestrian in September 2020. The state House voted 36-31 to approve House Resolution 7002 (HR 7002) which states, “A RESOLUTION, Providing for the impeachment of Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, for certain crimes and for malfeasance in office.”

Twenty-eight Republicans and eight Democrats voted in favor of the resolution and 31 Republicans voted against it.

Ravnsborg fatally struck a pedestrian while driving on Sept. 12, 2020. An investigation led by the South Dakota Highway Patrol found that Ravnsborg was distracted at the time of the crash, and that his car left the road before it struck the victim. Toxicology reports showed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the incident.

Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors, including careless driving, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, and driving out of a lane in Feb. 2021. He pleaded no contest to two of the charges while the third charge—careless driving—was dropped on Aug. 26, 2021.

The South Dakota House Committee on Impeachment voted 6-2 against impeaching Ravnsborg on March 28.

Ravnsborg was elected attorney general after defeating Randy Seiler (D), 55% to 45%, in the general election in 2018. Ravnsborg was unopposed in the Republican primary that year. Ravnsborg finished fifth in the GOP primary for one of South Dakota’s U.S. Senate seats in 2014.

According to Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Ravnsborg is the first official ever impeached in South Dakota and was required to take a leave of absence as attorney general until his trial in the Senate. The Argus Leader also reported that a chief of staff in the attorney general’s office said that Chief Deputy Attorney General Charlie McGuigan would lead the office during Ravnsborg’s absence.

Sneve wrote that the Senate trial can begin no earlier than May 2 and that Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck “has indicated a trial might not commence until early June.”

Garza, Jaworski advance to May 24 runoff in Democratic primary for Texas attorney general

Rochelle Garza and Joe Jaworski advanced from the March 1 Democratic primary for Texas attorney general when third-place finisher Lee Merritt conceded his spot in the runoff on March 10. Garza finished first in the primary with 43.0% of the vote and Jaworski received 19.7%. Merritt finished in third place with 19.4%, Mike Fields was fourth with 12.3%, and S. T-Bone Raynor was fifth with 5.5%.

Because no candidate won more than 50% of the votes cast, Garza and Jaworski will meet in a May 24 primary runoff election.

Garza is a former attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who originally announced she would run for Texas’ 34th Congressional District. After Texas enacted new congressional district maps in October 2021, Garza decided to run for attorney general instead. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Garza said, “Given my background, my work, I believe that this race is the right place to be. I also believe that if we’re gonna change anything in Texas, it’s gonna have to come at the state level because we’ve seen the damage that the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have done to this state and the harm they’ve done to the people.”

Jaworski is an attorney and the former mayor of Galveston. His campaign website lists several top priorities, including supporting the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid, leading a statewide effort to legalize recreational marijuana, and supporting the decision-making authority of local governments. “Local decision-making authority is under attack in state government these days and I can personally say that local government is the best government. So I think as attorney general, Texans can rest assured whether they live in Republican jurisdiction, Democratic jurisdiction or any independent-type jurisdiction, that local government will be a focus of my attorney general opinion.”

The attorney general is an executive office that serves as the chief legal advisor and chief law enforcement officer for the state government and is empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature. In most states, the attorney general has a substantial influence on a state’s approach to law enforcement.

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Paxton, Bush advance to runoff in Texas Attorney General Republican primary

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and George P. Bush advanced to a May 24 primary runoff, after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the March 1 primary election.

Paxton won 42.7% of the vote, while Bush won 22.4%. Candidates Eva Guzman and Louis Gohmert received 17.8% and 17.1% of the vote, respectively.

Paxton was first elected Attorney General in 2014. He was re-elected in 2018, defeating Justin Nelson (D) 50.6% to 47%. Paxton ran on his record as Attorney General—a record he says includes challenging the Biden administration in court and guarding religious freedom.

In June 2021, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Paxton. Paxton said, “As the values conservative endorsed by President Trump, I am proud of my record standing up to and defeating the Biden Administration – repeatedly. I stand by my record and values, and ask each voter to join President Trump in standing with me for a safer and stronger Texas.”

Bush is the Texas Land Commissioner, a position to which he was first elected in 2014. His campaign has focused on border security, law enforcement, combating human trafficking, and restoring integrity to the office.

Bush said allegations that Paxton engaged in criminal misconduct make him unfit for office. In 2015, Paxton was indicted on three counts related to securities fraud violations. The case is still open, and no trial has been scheduled. In 2020, the FBI opened an investigation into claims that Paxton used the Office of the Attorney General to benefit a political donor. Paxton has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

Bush said: “Texans deserve a top advocate that’s above reproach, not under indictment, focused on the job, going to defend our state against federal overreach, but also take on progressive mayors that are doing everything, for example, here in Austin, such as defunding the police.”

Texas has had a Republican attorney general since 1999.

At the time of this writing, the Democratic primary had not been decided. Rochelle Garza had 43.6% of the vote, while Joe Jaworski had 19.6%.

Oklahoma governor appoints new state attorney general

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed John O’Connor (R) as the state’s attorney general on July 23. O’Connor was sworn in on the same day for a term expiring in 2023.

O’Connor succeeded former attorney general Mike Hunter (R), who resigned on June 1. Hunter had served as the attorney general since 2017.

O’Connor has worked as an attorney in private practice and served on the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. Trump nominated O’Connor to a split seat on the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma on April 10, 2018. The U.S. Senate did not confirm O’Connor during the 115th Congress, and O’Connor withdrew his name from consideration for re-nomination by the next Congress on Apr. 12, 2019.

The Oklahoma Attorney General is an elected executive position in state government. The attorney general serves as the state’s chief legal officer and prosecutes violations of state law, represents the state in legal disputes and issues legal advice to state agencies and the legislature.

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Attorney General of Oklahoma

United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma 

Federal judges nominated by Donald Trump

Mike Hunter announces resignation as Oklahoma attorney general

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter (R) announced on May 26 that he would be resigning effective June 1. Hunter cited “personal matters that are becoming public” as the reason for his resignation. The Oklahoman reported that Hunter allegedly had an affair with another state employee.

In a statement, Hunter said, “It has been a distinct and absolute privilege of a lifetime to serve as the state’s attorney general…I cannot allow a personal issue to overshadow the vital work the attorneys, agents, and support staff do on behalf of Oklahomans.”

Gov. Mary Fallin (R) appointed Hunter attorney general of Oklahoma in 2017 after former Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) was sworn in as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hunter was then elected to a full term in 2018. Before his appointment as attorney general, Hunter served as secretary of state of Oklahoma from 2016 to 2017 and from 1999 to 2002. Hunter began his political career by serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990.

The attorney general is an executive office in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, serving as the chief legal advisor and chief law enforcement officer for the state government. The office is empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes, and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature.

The attorney general is an elected position in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including Oklahoma. However, when a vacancy occurs in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, the governor appoints a successor to serve until the next election. 

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Alaska legislature confirms Treg Taylor as attorney general

A joint session of the Alaska Legislature voted 35-24 to confirm Treg Taylor as the state’s attorney general on May 11. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Taylor as acting attorney general on Jan. 29 after Ed Sniffen resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Before Dunleavy appointed Taylor attorney general, Taylor served as deputy attorney general in charge of the civil division at the Alaska Department of Law. In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly.

The two previous attorneys general of Alaska both resigned due to allegations of misconduct. Kevin Clarkson resigned after an investigation revealed that he had sent inappropriate text messages to a junior employee. Sniffen resigned after a former member of a high school mock trial team coached by Sniffen alleged that she and Sniffen had a sexual relationship when she was 17 years old.

The attorney general is a state executive office in all 50 states and is the chief legal advisor for state government. Attorneys general are empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes, and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature. 

Nationwide, 26 states have Republican Party-affiliated attorneys general, and 24 states have Democratic Party-affiliated attorneys general. Virginia is the only state electing its attorney general this year. Thirty states will elect an attorney general in 2022.

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Virginia GOP nominates Jason Miyares for attorney general in statewide convention

Jason Miyares defeated Leslie Haley, Chuck Smith, and Jack White to win the Republican Party of Virginia’s nomination for state attorney general at the 2021 convention.

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the 2021 Virginia Republican convention was an unassembled convention held across 39 satellite locations. Unlike previous conventions, there was no limit on how many delegates could cast votes, which were weighted according to the number of delegate votes allocated to each locality. Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting to determine a majority-vote winner. Over 53,000 people registered as delegates in 2021.

Miyares was announced as the winner of the attorney general convention on May 9, after three rounds of ranked-choice vote re-allocation. The final, weighted count showed Miyares with 51.7% of the vote to Smith’s 48.3%.

Miyares has served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2016. His campaign platform included reducing the rate at which the Virginia Parole Board granted early release to violent offenders and punishing manufacturers and marketers who he said played a role in the opioid addiction epidemic.

The general election for Virginia attorney general will take place on November 2, 2021. The Democratic nominee will be decided in a primary on June 8. As of May 10, votes were still being counted for the Republican nominations for governor and lieutenant governor.

Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring (D) won re-election in 2017 with 53.4% of the vote to John Adams’ (R) 46.6%. The last Republican attorney general in Virginia was Ken Cuccinelli, who served from 2010 to 2014. Cuccinelli’s election in 2009, along with that year’s election of former Governor Bob McDonnell (R), was the last time a Republican candidate won statewide office in Virginia.

John Formella confirmed as New Hampshire attorney general

John Formella was confirmed as New Hampshire’s next attorney general by the Executive Council of New Hampshire on March 24 by a vote of 4 to 1. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) nominated Formella to the position on March 3. Formella has served as legal counsel in Gov. Sununu’s office since 2017. 

WMUR reported that Sununu congratulated Formella, saying “John’s work ethic is unmatched, and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional Attorney General and advance the best interests of Granite Staters. I look forward to working with him and the Department of Justice in the years ahead.”

Formella succeeds Gordon MacDonald, who left office earlier this year due to his nomination as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Deputy Attorney General Jane Young assumed the duties of the attorney general’s office when MacDonald stepped down. According to the governor’s office, Formella will take office after “an appropriate transition period.”

Prior to becoming legal counsel to Gov. Sununu, Formella worked for the New England law firm Pierce Atwood LLP. He was first hired as a summer associate in 2011 and was promoted to a full-time attorney in 2012.

The New Hampshire attorney general serves as head of the Department of Justice. The office’s primary responsibilities include acting as attorney for the state in criminal and civil cases in the supreme court, prosecuting crimes, enforcing the state’s criminal laws, and collecting unpaid debts to the state.

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Former N.H. Attorney General Gordon MacDonald sworn in as chief justice of state Supreme Court

Former Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was sworn in to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on March 4. He was nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on Jan. 7 to succeed Robert Lynn, and the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 4-1 to confirm his nomination on Jan. 22. All four Republican members of the executive council voted to confirm. The only vote against confirmation was from Cinde Warmington (D).

The New Hampshire Executive Council is a five-member state executive board that oversees the state budget and approves gubernatorial appointments. Following the 2020 elections, the executive council switched from Democratic to Republican control. 

Gov. Sununu previously nominated MacDonald to succeed Robert Lynn as chief justice in June 2019, when the executive council was still under Democratic control. However, the council voted 3-2 along party lines to reject MacDonald’s nomination.

Robert Lynn was the chief justice of the Supreme Court from Feb. 6, 2018, until his retirement on Aug. 23, 2019. His seat on the court remained vacant until MacDonald joined the court.

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