Midterms 2018: Democratic AGs Tip The Scales, DAGA Flips CO, NV, MI, and WI Blue
November 7, 2018
Democratic AGs Flip Four Seats Blue in Most Expensive State AG Elections in History; Regain Democratic Majority in State AG Seats Nationwide
Historic Wins in CT, MI, MN, NV, and NY
Washington, D.C. – 2018 is the year of the Democratic Attorney General. Not only will Democratic AGs continue to serve as a the key check on the Trump administration, fighting to protect their states every day, but the room of Democratic AGs is growing. The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) played a major role in flipping four seats blue in the most expensive state AG elections in history. These pick-ups shift the balance of state AG seats nationwide to a Democratic majority.
“Democratic AGs were the most important office on the ballot—and thanks to the hard work of our candidates, their campaigns, our strategic partners, and our dedicated leaders on this committee—we brought home big wins,” said Sean Rankin, Executive Director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association. “I know that people in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and now a majority of states nationwide, will benefit from having a state AG who puts their communities’ needs first.”
The victories in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin continue to show the growing strength of DAGA. In 2016, the first Election Cycle with the re-engineered committee, DAGA won two out of three targeted races going head-to-head with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), and secured wins in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In 2017, the first election after RAGA voted to drop the incumbency agreement, AG Mark Herring won a landslide victory in Virginia despite RAGA spending more than $7 million against him.
In 2018, there were 31 AG seats on the ballot on Election Day and experts predicted there would be more than $100 million spent on these races making 2018 the most expensive AG cycle in history. RAGA spent close to $40 million this cycle in attempts to defend 18 seats, four of which eventually fell to Democrats in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin. In fact, the GOP committee spent almost half or their total spend on the four Democratic flips. Additionally, Wisconsin Republican incumbent Brad Schimel is the first incumbent to lose in the post-incumbency agreement landscape.
After Tuesday’s pick-up of four seats, Democrats regained the majority of state AG seats nationwide, tipping the scales to 27 Democratic AGs. DAGA successfully defended all incumbents seeking re-election and held tight in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island where newly-elected Democratic AGs held onto blue seats. There are four more AG seats in play over the next few weeks as Governors in Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming appoint AGs and as the statehouse in Maine elects its AG. Additionally, DAGA continues to break fundraising records, and will eclipse $24 million across all vehicles for the 2017-18 by year’s end, doubling previous records.
“We recognize the challenges in AG races—drop-off, lower name ID, and less understanding of the office,” continued Rankin. “However, this committee and our candidates rose to the challenge and secured hard fought wins in states across the country. And even as we prepared for the Midterms, we have been recruiting for 2019 and 2020.”
Coined as “the down-ballot officials who could freeze the Trump Train in its tracks” by the Washington Post and as “The Most Effective Way for Democrats to Fight Trump’s Agenda” by Mother Jones, state Attorneys General races were front and center for not only party leaders like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris, but for voters across the country.
“Together, Democratic AGs are serving as the most effective check on the Trump administration and preventing harms to the most vulnerable in our communities,” said DAGA Co-chair and Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum. “We are proud of our newly elected Democratic AGs and are excited to welcome them to our team.”
“As the co-chair of DAGA, I have worked alongside my wonderful co-chair AG Karl Racine and our amazing Executive Director Sean Rankin and his team as we have successfully established a new model for supporting and electing Democratic AGs,” continued AG Rosenblum. “I am confident in our continued growth and success as we build on this momentum going into 2019, 2020, and beyond.”
Through its aggressive recruitment for qualified candidates and the launch of the 1881 Initiative, DAGA assembled the most diverse class of attorney general candidates in history. In New York, Tish James will become the first African American woman to serve in statewide office, and only the second woman to serve as AG. In Michigan, Dana Nessel will become the first openly LGBT candidate to hold statewide elected office in Michigan. In Minnesota, Keith Ellison will become the first Muslim elected statewide and the first black AG in the state. In Nevada, Aaron Ford will be the first black AG to serve the state. William Tong will be the first Asian American AG in Connecticut.
“The diversity of our country is our strength—and the group of Democratic AG candidates that ran this cycle truly reflected the American people,” said DAGA Co-chair and District of Columbia AG Karl Racine. “As the co-chair of DAGA, I am proud of this committee for leading the charge and setting an example for how to successfully recruit and support a diverse set of Democratic leaders.”
“DAGA has also been successful in raising awareness about the role state AGs play in protecting the people in their states, upholding the rule of law, and serving as a check on Trump,” added AG Racine.
Additionally, DAGA is continuing to change the game when it comes to elevating the importance of these races and expanded the opportunity to flip seats from red-to-blue. As part of the DAGA’s first-of-its-kind volunteer-to-voter education texting program, reached more than 11 million voters this cycle to inform them about the importance of AG Elections and to answer questions about candidates. As the only voter outreach program texting specifically on AG races, DAGA’s digital door knock program reached voters in key states including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
“A key lesson over the past two years of committee growth has been that when voters know who their AG candidate is—and the issues on which that candidate stands—voters pick the Democrat,” concluded Rankin. “And in 2018, we were successful in allocating resources effectively, engaging with our growing set of strategic partners, reaching voters, and elevating this critical office.”
For a breakdown of DAGA support in key states, see the more details here.