Tagattorney general

Four candidates running for Michigan attorney general

Incumbent Dana Nessel (D), Matthew DePerno (R), Joe McHugh (L), and Gerald T. Van Sickle (U.S. Taxpayers Party) are running for Michigan attorney general on Nov. 8, 2022.

Nessel was elected in 2018, defeating Tom Leonard (R) 49.0% to 46.3%. Before Nessel’s election, a Republican had held the office since 2002.

Detroit Free Press‘ Dave Boucher wrote on Oct. 25, 2022, “[The attorney general race is] a close contest marked by a looming criminal investigation and personal attacks. … Polls consistently show this is the tightest statewide race in Michigan[.]”

Nessel says, “I am the best candidate to be Michigan’s AG because I am committed to serving all residents as the People’s Lawyer, with a focus on safeguarding consumers and protecting the voting, reproductive and civil rights of Michiganders.” Nessel has criticized what she called DePerno’s “extreme and radical stances” on abortion and the 2020 presidential election. She says, “AGs are tasked with defending the rights of their state’s residents. Voting, reproductive, civil rights — it all hinges on who’s in the AG’s office. My opponent’s extreme views on abortion & insistence that the 2020 election was stolen make him too dangerous to be Michigan’s AG.”

DePerno, who opened his own law firm in 2005, says, “I am running for attorney general to restore integrity, justice, and morality here in Michigan. … On day one, I will restore law and order.” DePerno’s campaign website says he had been “fighting against tyranny in Michigan for many years, including protesting across the state against [Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)] and Nessel’s unconstitutional mask mandates, school and business lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and critical race theory.” DePerno says he will “prosecute the people who corrupted the 2020 election and allowed fraud to permeate the entire election system[.]”

According to Boucher, “In August, the Office of the Michigan Attorney General and Michigan State Police revealed details of an inquiry that show they believe there is evidence DePerno … and others violated multiple laws by accessing and tampering with election equipment.”

MLive‘s Ben Orner wrote, “DePerno faces possible criminal charges in that ballot machine investigation. Nessel requested a special prosecutor so to prevent a conflict of interest if charges are brought. DePerno has maintained his innocence and says Nessel is ‘weaponizing her office’ to attack a political opponent.”

In 2018, Democrats gained a state government triplex in Michigan, flipping the Republican-held executive offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

This is one of 30 elections for attorney general taking place in 2022. All 50 states have an attorney general who serves as the state’s chief legal officer, responsible for enforcing state law and offering the state government advice on legal matters. In 43 states, the office is an elected post. There are currently 27 Republican attorneys general and 23 Democratic attorneys general. Heading into the 2022 elections, there are 23 Republican triplexes, 18 Democratic triplexes, and nine divided governments where neither party holds triplex control.



Incumbent Aaron Ford (D) and Sigal Chattah (R) running for Nevada Attorney General

Incumbent Aaron D. Ford (D) and Sigal Chattah (R) are running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Nevada Attorney General. John T. Kennedy (L) unofficially withdrew from the race in September 2022.

In September 2022, Sabato’s Crystal Ball released an analysis of state attorney general election competitiveness. Nevada’s attorney general election was rated as at least somewhat competitive: “[Democrat] Ford is polished, well-funded, and has largely avoided any major hiccups in office. But he won only narrowly in the Democratic wave year of 2018, and for 2022, Nevada is one of the states where Democrats are concerned about possible GOP gains. On the Republican side, attorney Sigal Chattah has attracted notice for suing the state over COVID restrictions; she won one case but lost the others.”

Ford was first elected in 2018, defeating Wesley Duncan (R) 47.2% to 46.8%. Ford previously worked as an attorney and served in the Nevada State Senate from 2013 to 2019. In an interview with The Record-Courier, Ford said he was running because, “As Nevada’s People’s Attorney and Top Law Enforcement Officer, I believe there is no task greater than the pursuit of justice. Under my leadership, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office has proven there is no criminal too ruthless and no corporation too powerful to take on if they are hurting Nevadans.”

Chattah is a civil and criminal defense attorney who previously served on the City of Las Vegas Planning Commission and as a member of the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Nevada. In an interview with The Record-Courier, Chattah said she was running “To end Government public corruption, restore public safety, protect our children from wrongful indoctrination at schools, and provide the people of the State of the Nevada government transparency that they are entitled to.”

Before Ford was elected in 2018, Adam Laxalt (R) held the position of Nevada Attorney General. The attorney general is Nevada’s chief legal counsel. He or she represents the people of Nevada in civil and criminal matters in court. The attorney general also serves as legal counsel to state officers and to most state agencies, boards, and commissions. In addition, the attorney general establishes and operates projects and programs to protect Nevadans from fraud or illegal activities that target consumers or threaten public safety, and enforces laws that safeguard the environment and natural resources.

This is one of 30 elections for attorney general taking place in 2022. There are currently 27 Republican attorneys general and 23 Democratic attorneys general. Heading into the 2022 elections, there are 23 Republican triplexes, 18 Democratic triplexes, and nine divided governments where neither party holds triplex control. A state government triplex refers to a situation where the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all members of the same political party.



Six states sue Biden administration over student loan forgiveness plan

Six states filed a joint lawsuit against the Biden administration on September 29 to block the federal government’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 of federal student loans per person. The states allege the administration overstepped its executive authority and was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The states also argued that the Department of Education was legally required to collect student loans and could not stop collecting without congressional approval.

The lawsuit, led by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, alleged that four of the states (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina) were harmed by the policy because they could not collect taxes on the loan relief. It also alleged that Missouri would lose revenue from loans it owned through the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

Of the six states, five have Republican trifectas and one (Kansas) has a divided government. All of the states except Iowa have Republican attorneys general.

If the forgiveness plan survives court challenges, it will cancel $10,000 in student loan debt per person for individual tax filers making less than $125,000 or married filers with less than $250,000 in income. Pell Grant recipients are eligible to have an additional $10,000 forgiven under the plan.

Additional reading:



Incumbent Josh Kaul (D) and Eric Toney (R) running for Wisconsin attorney general

Incumbent Josh Kaul (D) and Eric Toney (R) are running for Wisconsin attorney general on Nov. 8, 2022.

Kaul was elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Brad Schimel (R) 49.4% to 48.8%. Before Kaul took office, a Republican had held the office since 2007.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball senior columnist Louis Jacobson named this election as one of the five most competitive attorney general elections in 2022, writing, “When Kaul won the office in 2018, his vote margin was narrow and tracked the showing of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tony Evers. Evers is facing a tough reelection in 2022, and so is Kaul. … [U]ltimately, [Kaul’s] fate will probably mirror whatever happens to Evers in November, and possibly the result of the U.S. Senate race between GOP incumbent Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.”

Kaul’s campaign website says, “As Attorney General, Josh’s top priority is public safety. … [H]is administration has investigated and/or prosecuted some of the most serious offenses in the state, including homicides, sexual assaults, robberies, internet crimes against children, and drug trafficking.” The website says, “[Kaul’s] administration has fought crime, protected our natural resources, and defended our rights, taking on tough issues and getting results.” Kaul’s career before he was elected attorney general included working as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and as a voting rights attorney. Kaul’s mother, Peggy Lautenschlager (D), served as attorney general from 2003 to 2007.

Toney was elected district attorney in Fond du Lac County in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. Toney’s campaign website says he is running for attorney general to “restore the Department of Justice’s mission to fight crime, support law enforcement, protect families, and enforce the rule of law,” saying that Kaul had “failed to support law enforcement, politicized the Department of Justice, failed to defend our election laws, has rejected the title of Wisconsin’s ‘Top Cop’ and has begun to systematically defund the Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute cases[.]”

The attorney general is the head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the chief legal officer for the state. During their campaigns, Kaul and Toney have addressed issues such as public safety, Department of Justice and law enforcement funding, crime in Milwaukee, the state’s 1849 abortion law, drug trafficking, election access and security, and firearm regulations.

In 2018, Democrats gained a state government triplex in Wisconsin when Democratic candidates defeated Republican incumbents in the elections for governor and attorney general, and the Democratic secretary of state was re-elected. All three offices are up for election again in 2022.

Across the U.S., 23 states have Republican triplexes, 18 have Democratic triplexes, and 9 have divided governments where neither party holds triplex control.

This election is one of 30 attorney general elections taking place in 2022. All 50 states have an attorney general who serves as the state’s chief legal officer. In 43 states, the office is an elected post. There are currently 27 Republican attorneys general and 23 Democratic attorneys general.



Meet the candidates for Arizona attorney general

Kris Mayes (D), Abraham Hamadeh (R), and Michael Kielsky (L) are running for Arizona attorney general on Nov. 8. Incumbent Mark Brnovich (R) did not run for re-election. 

Mayes and Hamadeh filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, which includes the question, What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

Mayes discussed climate policy in her response. Here’s an excerpt:

“I am the only candidate running for Attorney General to make fighting climate change a top priority. As Attorney General I will appoint a Climate Director within the Environmental Enforcement section who will take the lead on fighting climate change, expand the number of lawyers in the Environmental Enforcement section, and will certify any clean energy rules that the Arizona Corporation Commission passes, in the hope of establishing the requirement for our state’s utilities of a 100 percent clean energy standard.”

Hamadeh discussed law enforcement, gun policy, and creating an Office of Military Legal Assistance. Here’s an excerpt from his response:

“There’s a war on our police waged by the radical left. Not only are they defunding the police in cities across the country, but more importantly, they’re demoralizing our law enforcement officers. There’s been a 27% increase in the homicide rate in Arizona, criminals no longer fear any repercussions for their crimes. As Attorney General, I will restore LAW and ORDER and restore morale with our law enforcement officers.”

Mayes served on the Arizona Corporation Commission as a Republican from 2003 to 2011. The commission regulates non-municipal utility companies and oversees the incorporation of businesses, securities regulation, and railroad and pipeline safety.

Hamadeh is an Army intelligence officer and previously worked as a prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

In 2018, Brnovich defeated January Contreras (D) 51.7% to 48.3%. Arizona last elected a Democratic attorney general in 2006.

Democrats won top-ballot statewide elections in 2020—Mark Kelly (D) defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) 51.2% to 48.8% in the special U.S. Senate election, and Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 49.4% to 49.1% in the presidential election in Arizona.

Arizona has a Republican governor, Republican attorney general, and Democratic secretary of state. The term triplex describes when one party controls all three of those offices. Sabato’s Crystal Ball wrote that all three offices have competitive elections in Arizona this year.

There are 22 Republican triplexes, 18 Democratic triplexes, and 10 divided governments where neither party holds triplex control.

This is one of 30 elections for attorney general taking place in 2022. There are currently 27 Republican attorneys general and 23 Democratic attorneys general. 

Additional reading:



Texas sues Biden administration over guidance requiring abortions in medical emergencies

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sued the Biden administration July 14 after Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released guidance July 11 requiring doctors to provide abortions in medical emergencies when “abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve [the emergency] condition.” The guidance went on to say that “when a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life and health of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted.”

Paxton argued the guidance was too broad and that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act did not cover abortions. He said, “The Biden administration seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”

Texas law prohibits all abortions unless a pregnancy “places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”

The HHS guidance came after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) and ruling there is no constitutional right to abortion. Dobbs returned most abortion policy decisions to the states.

For more information on Dobbs and its effect on abortion policy, click here. To learn more about state responses to federal mandates, click here.

Additional reading:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Abortion regulations by state



Kobach wins Republican primary for Kansas attorney general

Kris Kobach defeated Tony Mattivi and Kellie Warren in the August 2, 2022, Republican primary for Kansas attorney general. The seat is open because incumbent Derek Schmidt (R) ran for governor.

Kobach served as the Kansas secretary of state from 2011 to 2019. Kobach ran unsuccessfully for Kansas governor in 2018, losing to Laura Kelly (D) in the general election. Kobach campaigned on creating a litigation team that would sue the Biden administration for what he describes as violating federal law. Kobach pointed to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) lawsuits against the federal government as a model for Kansas: “My objective is for Kansas to stand side by side with Texas so that more lawsuits can be brought and people will see that there are two states leading the charge against the Biden administration.” In addition to creating a litigation team within the attorney general’s office, Kobach’s campaign website listed prosecuting voter fraud, restoring pro-life laws, removing fees on conceal carry licenses, and cracking down on scams as his top issues.

Mattivi is a retired U.S. assistant attorney. Mattivi ran on his experience as a prosecutor, saying voters should choose him because “you’ll have a choice and it’s a choice between the career prosecutor or the career politician. And I hope you agree with me that our chief law enforcement official ought to be a law enforcement official.” Mattivi said his focus as attorney general would be fighting crime: “I’m not going to sit in my office thinking about creative ways to sue the federal government because there are other things that are more important to our state like keeping us safe.” He listed fighting government overreach, backing law enforcement, protecting the Constitution, and enforcing the law as his top issues.

Warren is a member of the Kansas Senate, a position to which she was first elected in 2020. In 2018, she was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Warren said voters should choose her because of her experience in the legislature: “With me, you have the record you can depend on of a battle-tested conservative who fights and wins. I win tough elections. I win policy battles that you care about. And I win in the courtroom as well. That’s what we need in our next attorney general.” Warren said she has a track record of defeating Democrats in elections, and has referenced Kobach’s loss to Gov. Kelly (D) in 2018 as a warning to voters: “Losing elections has consequences. We are paying a high price in Kansas for having lost in 2018. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Warren listed defending the Constitution, protecting the Second Amendment, and limiting government overreach as top issues.

Kobach, Mattivi, and Warren expressed support for the Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot on August 2, 2022. Kansans rejected the amendment 58.78% to 41.22%. The measure would have amended the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.



Republican-led states sue Department of Agriculture over nondiscrimination school meal guidance

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (R), joined by 21 Republican attorneys general, filed a lawsuit on July 26, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee that aimed to overturn guidance from the Biden administration and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. The guidance expanded Title IX to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The directive also compelled state and local agencies receiving federal funds from the Food and Nutrition Service, including the national school lunch program, to align with nondiscrimination policies. Twenty-two Republican-led states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) joined in the lawsuit.

The attorneys general argued that the USDA’s directive exceeded statutory authority and violated the Administrative Procedure Act by enacting a legislative rule without providing an opportunity for public comment. They also contended that the guidance interfered with the states’ right to enact legislation. The directive for states to adopt such nondiscrimination policies in schools contradicts state law in several states.

Slatery argued, “This case is, yet again, about a federal agency trying to change law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative.” He added, “The USDA simply does not have that authority. We have successfully challenged the Biden Administration’s other attempts to rewrite law and we will challenge this as well,” according to The Associated Press.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released a statement in May regarding the USDA’s guidance, stating that, “USDA is committed to administering all its programs with equity and fairness, and serving those in need with the highest dignity. A key step in advancing these principles is rooting out discrimination in any form – including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The Food and Nutrition Service and the Department of Agriculture had not responded to the lawsuit as of July 29, 2022. 

Additional reading:

Administrative Procedure Act

Herbert H. Slatery

U.S. Department of Agriculture



Three candidates running in Republican primary for Kansas Attorney General

Kris Kobach, Tony Mattivi, and Kellie Warren are running in the August 2, 2022, Republican primary for Kansas attorney general. Incumbent Derek Schmidt (R) is running in the Republican primary for Kansas governor.

Kobach served as the Kansas secretary of state from 2011 to 2019. Kobach ran unsuccessfully for Kansas governor in 2018, losing to Laura Kelly (D) in the general election. Kobach has campaigned on creating a litigation team that would sue the Biden administration for what he describes as violating federal law. Kobach has pointed to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) lawsuits against the federal government as a model for Kansas: “My objective is for Kansas to stand side by side with Texas so that more lawsuits can be brought and people will see that there are two states leading the charge against the Biden administration.” In addition to creating a litigation team within the attorney general’s office, Kobach has listed prosecuting voter fraud, restoring what he calls pro-life laws, removing fees on concealed carry licenses, and cracking down on scams as his top issues.

Mattivi is a retired U.S. assistant attorney who worked for the U.S. Department of Justice. Mattivi has run on his experience as a prosecutor, saying voters should choose him because “you’ll have a choice and it’s a choice between the career prosecutor or the career politician. And I hope you agree with me that our chief law enforcement official ought to be a law enforcement official.” Mattivi has said his focus as attorney general will be fighting crime: “I’m not going to sit in my office thinking about creative ways to sue the federal government because there are other things that are more important to our state like keeping us safe.” He has listed fighting government overreach, backing law enforcement, protecting the Constitution, and enforcing the law as his top issues.

Warren is a member of the Kansas Senate, a position to which she was first elected in 2020. In 2018, she was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. Warren has said voters should choose her because of her experience in the legislature: “With me, you have the record you can depend on of a battle-tested conservative who fights and wins. I win tough elections. I win policy battles that you care about. And I win in the courtroom as well. That’s what we need in our next attorney general.” Warren has said she has a track record of defeating Democrats in elections, and has referenced Kobach’s loss to Gov. Kelly (D) in 2018 as a warning to voters: “Losing elections has consequences. We are paying a high price in Kansas for having lost in 2018. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Warren has listed defending the Constitution, protecting the Second Amendment, and limiting government overreach as top issues.

Kobach, Mattivi, and Warren have expressed support for the Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot on August 2, 2022. The measure would amend the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.

The Kansas attorney general is the chief law enforcement agency for the state. The attorney general provides legal services to state agencies and boards, protects consumers from fraud, assists the victims of crime and defends the state in civil proceedings. The attorney general is directly elected in 43 states. The attorney general is appointed by the state legislature in Maine, by the state Supreme Court in Tennessee, and by the governor in the remaining five states.



Seven propositions on California’s general election ballot this year

June 30 was the deadline for ballot propositions to qualify for the November general election ballot in California. The deadline applied to signature verification, ballot proposition withdrawal, and legislative referrals.

Californians will be deciding on seven ballot propositions—six citizen-initiated measures and one legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

At the top of the ballot will be a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from interfering with or denying an individual’s right to an abortion and use of contraceptives. The amendment passed the state legislature on June 27 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24. With the proposition’s certification, 2022 became the year with the most ballot measures addressing abortion on record with five.

Voters will also decide on the following citizen-initiated measures:

  • A constitutional amendment and statute backed by American Indian tribes to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California with a 10% tax on profits;
  • A constitutional amendment and statute backed by national sportsbook companies, like FanDuel and DraftKings, to legalize online and mobile sports betting outside of American Indian lands with a 10% tax on revenues dedicated to programs to address homelessness and tribal economic development;
  • A law to require a minimum source of annual funding—equal to, at minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the prior fiscal year—for K-12 public schools, including charter schools, to fund arts education programs;
  • A law to enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics;
  • A law to increase the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75% and dedicate revenue to zero-emission vehicle projects and wildfire prevention programs; and
  • A veto referendum to uphold or repeal the ban on flavored tobacco sales.

Two initiatives related to plastic waste reduction and medical malpractice caps had previously qualified for the November ballot but were removed by sponsors after legislative compromises were passed.

An initiative related to pandemic-related research and funding and another that would increase the state minimum wage to $18 missed the signature verification deadline on the 30th. The first had 981,582 of the 997,139 signatures needed, and the latter had 608,293 of the 623,212 signatures needed at the time of the deadline. With counties still processing signatures, the initiatives could appear on the ballot in 2024.

The legislature adjourned on Thursday before taking a final vote to refer a constitutional amendment to join five other states in 2022 in removing constitutional language permitting enslavement or servitude as criminal punishments or debt payments.

Fifty-three initiatives were filed in California for the 2022 ballot. With six initiatives qualifying for the ballot, the ballot initiative certification rate for 2022 was 11.3%. Between 2010 and 2020, the average ballot initiative certification rate was 11.9%. The lowest rate was in 2014 with 4.5% or four of 89 initiatives qualifying for the ballot. The highest rate was 2020 with 17.4% or eight of 46 initiatives qualifying for the ballot.

Between 1985 and 2020, California ballots featured 395 ballot propositions with 58% or 228 measures approved and 42% or 167 measures defeated.