By: Stephen Cobb and Jerry Kilgore
Today we see former state attorneys general (AGs) as leaders in every level of government and across the political spectrum from Congress to the White House to federal agencies. Currently, there are seven former state AGs in the U.S. Senate, eight former state AGs serving as their state’s governor and nine serving in the Biden Administration. Moreover, state AGs are a political force in their own right. As state AGs continue to establish themselves as the dominant legal and regulatory figures in the country, members of Congress and other statewide office holders are seeking the position like never before.
So, with the November elections just around the corner, let’s take a look at the candidates for AG and play political prognosticator to try to predict the winners, who will immediately become influential regulators and potentially move into higher office in the years ahead. One state AG has already won office as governor and another incumbent AG is eying up the office, giving credence to the old adage that AG stands for aspiring governor. With two open seats in play and only one incumbent seeking reelection this cycle, here are the candidates.
Current AG Jeff Landry (R) was successful in the recent primary race for governor. His move to the governor’s mansion, and the fact that neither of the two leading candidates for attorney general achieved more than 50% of the vote in the non-partisan blanket primary held on October 14, means that they will face off in a head-to-head in November.
The top-polling candidate who achieved 45% of the vote in the primary is Republican and current Solicitor General Liz Murrill. Ms. Murrill is an 8th generation Louisianan, former U.S. Supreme Court fellow, and community leader. She’s focused her campaign on issues related to fighting crime, pushing back against federal government overreach, protecting the Second Amendment, and defending pro-life policies.
The highest polling Democratic candidate, with 23%, is Lindsey Cheek. Ms. Cheek is a litigator and founder of The Cheek Law Firm LLC. She describes herself as a fierce advocate for women’s reproductive rights, a fighter against corruption, and an advocate for education and lowering health costs.
The last two statewide election cycles have not been hospitable to the Democratic candidates. With Ms. Murrill’s clear advantage and the fact that GOP candidates regularly receive near or beyond 60% of the vote, the odds are heavily stacked against Ms. Cheek.
Our prediction: GOP Hold.
The home of GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky has been a surprisingly competitive battleground for non-federal statewide candidates. With Democratic gubernatorial incumbent (and former AG) Andy Beshear holding a high approval rating and at the top of the ticket, the Democrats are hopeful that he has the coattails to pull Pam Stevenson (D) across the finish line.
Democratic candidate Pam Stevenson, or “Colonel Pam” as she’s regularly called, is a retired Air Force JAG and member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. She describes her campaign as one to bring balance in government and “crack down on drug deals, gun runners, and human traffickers.”
Her opponent in the race to succeed Republican AG Daniel Cameron, who is taking on Governor Beshear, is Russell Coleman (R), former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky and former senior advisor and counsel to Mitch McConnell.
This state AG race is likely to be significantly closer than that in Louisiana, with both candidates campaigning hard and an electorate in which both parties have garnered success in recent years. Moreover, Kentuckians have shown a willingness to vote split tickets, meaning that top of the ticket success may not have the trickle-down effect so often seen in other states.
Our prediction: Leans GOP
Finally in Mississippi, we have the lone incumbent seeking reelection in 2023. AG Lynn Fitch has become a GOP mainstay of Mississippi politics after defeating then-AG and Democrat Jim Hood in 2019 to flip that office to the GOP for the first time since Reconstruction. Prior to becoming AG, Ms. Fitch served as state treasurer for eight years after holding several appointed positions in Mississippi state government. Upon becoming AG, her office successfully defended a Mississippi state law in litigation that culminated in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade. She carries a high approval rating in a state that recently has become extremely difficult for Democratic candidates.
Her opponent is Greta Kemp Martin (D). Ms. Martin currently serves as the litigation director for Disability Rights Mississippi, the protection and advocacy agency for the state of Mississippi. A first-time candidate, Ms. Martin is focusing much of her campaign messaging on the battle against political corruption, protection of women’s rights, and “working for all of Mississippi”.
Our prediction: GOP Hold
Despite resounding successes in 2022, we believe Democratic AG candidates are unlikely to flip GOP seats in 2023 in light of the unfavorable political map. With three probable GOP victories, the partisan makeup of state AGs is unlikely to change until 2024 at the earliest. Stay tuned for the 2023 results and our predictions as we move into a busy 2024 cycle, in which candidates in 10 AG races (as at the time of writing)—including swing-states North Carolina and Pennsylvania–will vie for airtime with presidential and congressional races in what we predict will be a noisy and messy election season.
 Sens. Sullivan, Blumenthal, Hawley, Schmitt, Cortez-Masto, Whitehouse, Cornyn.
 Governors Beshear, Mills, Healey, Cooper, DeWine, Shapiro, McMaster, Abbott.
 Vice President Kamala Harris; Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra; Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm; Richard Cordray, Department of Education COO of Federal Student Aid; Gubir Grewal, Director of Enforcement for SEC; Anne Milgram, Administrator of DEA; Ken Salazar, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico;, Tom Udall,; U.S. Ambassador to Samoa; Clare Connors, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii.
 Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.