The turbulent politics of the midterm elections played out in state attorneys general contests races that had been defined by intense debates over abortion rights, democracy and public safety. Many contests remained too close to call Wednesday. In one closely watched race, Keith Ellison narrowly won a second term as Minnesota attorney general, the Washington Post reports. Ellison campaigned on his promise to protect abortion rights, a major talking point for Democrats seeking the top state prosecutor job. Opponent Jim Schultz, a lawyer and first-time candidate, echoed other Republican attorney general hopefuls in focusing almost exclusively on public safety. He described Ellison’s policies as “fundamentally reckless and extreme” in a region still reeling from the police murder of George Floyd more than two years ago. Schultz’s message appeared to have won over rural and some suburban voters. Ellison claimed overwhelming support in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a bastion of Democratic voters who turned out in historic numbers.
Dueling themes of abortion and crime defined other races, with particularly competitive campaigns in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Texas. Many attorney general candidates raised record-breaking sums, and outside groups have funneled significant money into the races. “There was a time when these races only got attention because it was an up-and-comer who might be running for governor sometime down the road,” said Paul Nolette, a Marquette University political scientist, adding that attorneys general have increasingly “realized their own powers and been a lot more prominent,” delving into such issues as the environment, immigration, health care and guns. In Michigan, Dana Nessel, the incumbent attorney general and a Democrat, defeated Matthew DePerno, a Republican lawyer who is under investigation for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state. In Georgia, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr narrowly defeated Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan. Abortion and crime were also big issues in Wisconsin’s attorney general race, where Democratic incumbent Josh Kaul narrowly defeated Republican Eric Toney.