Unnaturally Political

GOP Makes Huge Strides in AG Elections

When Adam Laxalt finally edged out a victory over Ross Miller in Nevada, Republicans had made history.

Laxalt was the last of five Republicans to win state attorney general races in six key races on Tuesday. When they are sworn in there will be more Republican attorneys general – 27 – than at any time in American history.

In addition, Republicans are hailing the election of two women AGs, Cynthia Coffman in Colorado and Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas, bringing their total from one to three.

“Our biggest victory is Nevada because of how much we had to overcome to win that race,” a celebratory Jessica Garrison, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, told me.

Laxalt versus Miller was considered “the marquee race in Nevada.” Laxalt’s win, with 46 percent of the vote to Miller’s 45, was the closet AG race of the night.

From the beginning, Laxalt had been considered a long shot. Nevada Political commentator Jon Ralston predicted this race would fall Miller’s way.

“My pledge to you is that I will work just as tirelessly in office as I did on the campaign trail, fighting to protect Nevada’s laws and our Constitution against federal overreach,” Laxalt wrote in an email to supporters. “We will do the things we promised on the campaign – protect Nevada’s most vulnerable, lock away criminals, seek to provide our military families with affordable legal services, continue our efforts to prosecute human trafficking, fight drug addiction and drug crimes, and help eliminate the backlog in rape kits.”

In Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin, where none of the current Republican attorneys general were on the ballot, new Republicans took their places.

Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, who defeated incumbent Republican AG Tom Horne in the state’s August primary, beat Democratic opponent Felecia Rotellini 53 percent to 46 percent.

This was Rotellini’s second run for attorney general. She lost in 2010 to Horne and many  speculated this election would be her time.

“There are two things that don’t show up on paper,” Brnovich told me in an interview this morning, “and that’s heart and hard work and those things we have a lot of.”

Brnovich plans a “top-to-bottom review of the entire office, to ensure everyone is committing to serving Arizona and keeping families safe.”

He also says he focused on fighting back against the overreach of the Obama administration. “Next time he tries to promulgate job killing regulation, we will be there every step of the way to protect Arizona.”

In Colorado, Cynthia Coffman, chief deputy to term-limited attorney general John Suthers, defeated Democrat Don Quick by 11 percentage points, 52-41. Coffman’s margin of victory was the largest for any statewide race in last night’s election.

 “Over the next four years, I am going to build an office of community initiatives, which will bring the attorney generals office closer to the people of Colorado,” Coffman told supporters during her speech. “There is no higher calling or greater responsibility than being the people’s lawyer, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve you as your next attorney general.”

Republican Brad Schimel pulled out a 51 percent to 45 percent win over Democrat Susan Happ in Wisconsin. The races focused heavily on the commitment to keeping Wisconsin safe, with Republicans hammering home their argument that Happ has been soft on crime in her time as Jefferson County district attorney.

“The campaign is over, but there is a lot of work to be done,” Schimel said in a statement provided me.  “I put the heroin dealers on notice that they are public enemy number one.” Already, he has spoken with members of the Wisconsin legislature regarding his plans for tackling this public safety challenge.  

Three states gave the GOP a chance to pick up the AGs office, which they were successful in doing in Arkansas and Nevada.

Republican Leslie Rutledge won her race against Democrat Nate Steel 51 to 43. Rutledge’s win makes her the first female to be elected attorney general in the state, and the first time a Republican has held that office since Reconstruction.

Rutledge promised, in her victory speech, to use “grit, determination and love for Arkansas” in her time as AG for the next four years.

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