On Election Day, the American people sent a loud and clear message that they are sick and tired of the status quo. Voters dealt a severe rebuke to Barack Obama’s decision to govern by fiat and ignore the Constitution. At the state level, perhaps no group of elected officials was more critical to the fight against federal overreach than Republican attorneys general.
Attorneys general across the United States led or are still leading lawsuits against the Obama Administration on executive amnesty, Obamacare, the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the U.S., the transgender bathroom directive, and more. Our A.G.s won significant victories, and some cases are still winding through the court system. One thing is clear as a result of these actions: voters have rewarded Republican attorneys general for their defense of the Constitution and the rule of law.
After Election Day, there are now a record-high 29 Republican attorneys general in the United States. The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), of which I am Executive Director, shattered its previous fundraising record by hauling in over $23 million to support our candidates around the country. Our counterpart committee on the Democratic side raised less than half that total. Our donors recognize the same thing the voters do: attorneys general are often the last line of defense for conservatism and federalism. As the top lawyers for their states, they have the unique standing to push back when Washington oversteps its constitutional boundaries.
In West Virginia, incumbent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey faced a Democrat who poured more than $5 million of his family fortune into his campaign. Those millions filled the airwaves with ads attacking Morrisey and his wife. Morrisey, along with RAGA's independent expenditure effort, consistently reminded voters of his ongoing fight against the EPA's “Clean Power Plan” that would decimate the West Virginia coal industry. Despite Democrat Jim Justice winning the governor’s race, West Virginia voters backed Morrisey by a wide margin and made clear they want an attorney general they can count on to fight for their jobs and way of life.
RAGA also helped elect rising stars like Josh Hawley in Missouri and Curtis Hill in Indiana.
Hawley (pictured above with Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt) ran as a political outsider with expertise in constitutional law. His unique experience helping win the famous “Hobby Lobby” religious liberty case struck a chord with Missouri voters. Missouri has not had a Republican attorney general in over twenty years, but resoundingly chose Josh Hawley for this office in large part because voters wanted an outsider who knew how to stand up for the Constitution.
In Indiana, Curtis Hill won his race by a wider margin than anybody else on the statewide ballot. General-elect Hill is a prosecutor who ran on a pledge to toughen penalties for violent criminals and fight back against federal overreach. Curtis is also the first African American statewide Republican elected official in Indiana history. He demonstrated broad appeal across party lines, and like Josh has a bright future ahead of him in public service.
We are proud of our work to expand the number of Republican attorneys general, and there are lessons in our success. Voters increasingly recognize the critical role attorneys general play and have no patience for candidates who are not serious about standing up for the Constitution and the rule of law. Too many Democrats run for attorney general as crusaders for certain fashionable causes but are surprised to find the public does not share their priorities.
Even with a Republican president being sworn in this January, our A.G.s philosophy will not change. The aggressor in the constitutional battles of the past eight years was always President Obama’s administration. It attempted to unilaterally impose new environmental regulations and rewrite immigration law, to name just two examples. These actions were wrong no matter which party controlled the White House, and our attorneys general were right to fight back.
The Republican Party, from the White House to the state legislatures, is in its strongest position in 80 years. President-elect Trump has an opportunity to roll back the federal government and expand freedom and opportunity for millions of Americans. We stand ready to work with him. While President Obama held office, Republican attorneys general served as the last line of defense for our Constitution. Now, the 29 Republican attorneys general and RAGA will become the tip-of-the-spear ensuring the constitutional rights of every American are protected.