National Association of Attorneys General

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Elections for Attorney General to Take Place in 30 States

Thirty states will hold elections for Attorney General during 2010, ushering in a number of new Attorneys General as three have reached their term limit and several others are running for another office.

The recent November 2009 elections already brought into office two new Attorneys General. The New Jersey Attorney General is appointed by the governor, and recently elected Governor Christopher Christie nominated Paula T. Dow for the position. At press time, she was serving as acting Attorney General while awaiting state Senate confirmation. Dow has been the Essex County prosecutor since October 2003. From 1994 to 2003, she worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office-District of New Jersey. Her predecessor, Attorney General Anne Milgram served until Jan. 19.

Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was sworn in Jan. 16, following his November election win. His predecessor, Bill Mims, did not run.

Prior to this, General Cuccinelli served in the state Senate of Virginia from August 2002 to January 2010. During his time in the Senate, he served on the Courts of Justice Committee, the Transportation Committee, the Local Government Committee, the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, and the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

There will also be a new Attorney General in Puerto Rico. Attorney General Antonio Sagardia stepped down in late December. Acting Attorney General Guillermo Somoz-Colombani is serving until the governor makes a permanent appointment.

The Attorney General is popularly elected in 43 states and Guam, and is appointed by the governor in five states (Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming) and in the four jurisdictions of American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In Maine, the Attorney General is selected by secret ballot of the legislature and in Tennessee by its state supreme court. In the District of Columbia, the mayor chooses the Attorney General.

Forty-six states presently provide a four-year term for the Attorney General. Maine and Vermont have a two-year term. Tennessee sets the term at eight years and in Alaska the Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the governor. Among states where the Attorney General is elected to four-year terms, 16 states limit the Attorney General to two such terms. All the others may succeed themselves an unlimited number of times.

The Attorneys General who are term limited and will finish their terms at the conclusion of 2010 are Terry Goddard of Arizona, Mike Cox of Michigan and Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island.

The following additional states will have an Attorney General election in which, at press time, the incumbent is likely to run for another term. Check specific state election sites for updated, official candidate announcements and primary information.

  • Alabama (Troy King)
  • Arkansas (Dustin McDaniel)
  • California (Edmund “Jerry” Brown)
  • Colorado (John Suthers)
  • Delaware (Joseph R. “Beau” Biden, III)
  • Idaho (Lawrence Wasden)
  • Illinois (Lisa Madigan)
  • Iowa (Tom Miller)
  • Kansas (Steve Six)
  • Maryland (Doug Gansler)
  • Massachusetts (Martha Coakley)
  • Minnesota (Lori Swanson)
  • Nebraska (Jon Brunning)
  • Nevada (Catherine Cortez Masto)
  • New Mexico (Gary King)
  • New York (Andrew Cuomo)V
  • North Dakota (Wayne Stenehjem)
  • Ohio (Richard Cordray)
  • South Dakota (Marty Jackley)
  • Texas (Greg Abbott)
  • Vermont (William Sorrell)
  • Wisconsin (J.B. Van Hollen)

There are several Attorneys General who are serving while currently running for another office.

  • Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General, is running for U.S. Senate.
  • Bill McCollum, Florida Attorney General, is running for governor.
  • Thurbert Baker, Georgia Attorney General, is running for governor.
  • Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General, is running for U.S. Senate.
  • Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Attorney General, is running for governor.
  • Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania Attorney General, has a term that ends in 2012, but he is running for governor this year.
  • Henry McMaster, South Carolina Attorney General is running for governor.

The Attorneys General appointments in Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming could also be in play depending on the outcome of the 2010 governors’ elections in those states. Maine’s state legislature, which chooses the Attorney General, will have November 2010 elections as well.

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