2024 Will Be a Big Year for State AG Elections—Is Your Company Prepared?
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2024 Will Be a Big Year for State AG Elections—Is Your Company Prepared?

Brownstein Client Alert, Jan. 4, 2023

The rise of the state attorney general (AG) as a regulator, disruptor and policy engine should be well-known to everyone in the business world by now. If your company doesn’t have a strategy for building relationships with AGs, it should. Whether it is financial institutions, social media platforms, airlines, grocery chains or any other consumer-facing or highly regulated industry, state AGs seem to have no limit on who or what they will investigate. That is why it behooves just about every company to pay close attention to who occupies the AG’s office in the states where they do business, who may be occupying the office in the years ahead, and what their engagement strategy looks like for those officials and their staff. To that end, we provide this preview of the 10 state AG elections coming in 2024.
 

Pennsylvania and North Carolina are toss-ups

Pennsylvania and North Carolina are two states where paying particularly close attention is wise. It’s nearly impossible to predict whether a Democrat or a Republican will win the general election, given the history of each state. In Pennsylvania, incumbent Attorney General Michelle Henry—who was appointed to fill a vacancy with an expectation that she would not run for the office—has publicly stated she does not intend to be a candidate. This opened the door for five Democrats and three Republicans to declare their candidacy. Pennsylvania’s primary election will be held on April 23, 2024, which will narrow the unwieldy field.

Having been under Democratic leadership since August 2016, Pennsylvania is a race to watch, given the sheer number of candidates and its status as a swing state. Early front-runners include former Philadelphia chief public defender Kier Bradford-Grey on the Democratic side and York County District Attorney Dave Sunday on the Republican side. The 2020 election resulted in a narrow victory for Democrats when the former attorney general and current governor, Josh Shapiro, won the election with 50.9% of the vote.

North Carolina is similarly situated, with one important nuance. In 2020, Democrat Josh Stein won with a razor-thin 50.1% of the vote. In the 2024 race, however, two sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives have declared their candidacy for state attorney general: Reps. Jeff Jackson (D) and Dan Bishop (R). Durham County DA Satana Deberry and Fayetteville attorney Tim Duncan have also declared their candidacy. The fact that two current members of Congress are seeking this seat should serve as a reminder of the influence wielded by state attorneys general.
 

Vermont, Washington State and Oregon seem to be safe for Democrats

Oregon, Vermont and Washington state seem to be safe seats for Democratic candidates for state AG. Should she run for reelection, Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark is in a strong position having won the 2022 election with 67.1% of the vote. There are currently no official candidates. For now, we can assume that Clark will be AG through 2026.

In contrast, the Democratic Party primary in Washington state appears to be competitive. Nicholas Brown, former United States attorney for the Western District of Washington, is running against state Sen. Manka Dhingra. Uniquely, Washington state’s primary election is a jungle primary, which means all candidates are listed on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. The top two candidates proceed to a general election. So, two Democrats may face off in Washington state’s November election.

In Oregon, Democrats have won every race for attorney general since 1992. For 2024, state House Speaker Dan Rayfield is the only Democrat who has entered the race to date. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, and Republican candidates Will Lathrop, a former prosecutor, and Robert Neuman, a Baker County resident, seek to upset Speaker Rayfield. Nevertheless, Vermont, Washington state and Oregon would seem to be safe seats for Democrats heading into the 2024 election cycle.
 

Republicans seek to maintain their advantage in Utah, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and Montana

On the other side of the political spectrum, there are five seemingly safe seats for Republicans up for reelection. Notwithstanding the likelihood of Republican victories, the identity of said Republicans is anything but certain. For example, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes recently announced he would not seek a fourth term. Although the slate of challengers seeking to replace Reyes has yet to be formed, this seat has been held by a Republican since 2001.

Another Republican incumbent not seeking reelection is West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is running for governor. Republican candidates seeking to replace him are State Auditor J.B. McCuskey and former U.S. Attorney and current state Sen. Michael Stuart. Missouri incumbent Andrew Baily faces a serious primary challenge from Will Scharf, a member of former President Trump’s appellate legal team. Regardless of the outcome, it’s highly probable a Republican will serve as Missouri’s attorney general. Finally, incumbents Todd Rokita in Indiana and Austin Knudsen in Montana are safe bets in their respective reelection bids.
 

Conclusion

The beginning of 2024 is an excellent time for every company to evaluate its engagement strategy for state attorneys general. While it’s still too early to predict the outcomes of various upcoming state AG elections, the results will impact each state’s approach to existing and future litigation and how policy issues are prioritized, inevitably affecting a wide range of business interests. It will be critical to decide whether and how to proactively address any issues that could be impacted by the outcomes of these races. Now is an opportune time to reassess your priorities and speak with counsel experienced in engaging with state attorneys general.


This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding state attorney general elections in 2024. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions. The information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Because the law in this area is changing rapidly, and insights are not automatically updated, continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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