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On primary day, some races for attorney general

Today is primary election day in seven states and D.C. We've already noted the hotly contested, five-way Democratic primary for state attorney general in New York. (AP story.) The other semi-interesting contest for the AG nomination takes place in Rhode Island, with three Democrats running.

The incumbent, Patrick Lynch, is term-limited out of office and has already withdrawn from the party's race for governor. We bid adieu to Lynch, who carried on the law-stretching public nuisance litigation against the paint industry begun by his predecessor, Sheldon Whitehouse. The Republican candidate is Erik B. Wallin of South Kingston, who was a JAG prosecutor for the U.S. Air Force before returning to Rhode Island to become a state prosecutor and subsequently enter private practice.

There are three Democratic candidates:

  • Joseph M. Fernandez is a former city solicitor for Providence, who has a background in complex commercial litigation and who represented business in private practice. (Campaign website)
  • Peter F. Kilmartin is a former police captain who represents District 61 (Pawtucket) in the Rhode Island House of Representative. Organized labor is backing Kilmartin. (Campaign website)
  • Stephen R. Archambault, a defense attorney, is one of the five members of the Smithfield Town Council. He's a former police officer who's prosecutor for the town of Lincoln (Campaign website.)

Actually some tough campaigning in the contest, or at least negative ads. AP, "Negative TV ad by AG candidate": "PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - State Rep. Peter Kilmartin put out a negative TV ad in his campaign for Attorney General on Wednesday attacking his Democratic primary opponents with questionable claims." Kilmartin has raised the most money.

Elsewhere, it's boring. But read on, if you will....

  • Delaware: Republicans did not put forward a candidate for attorney general, giving Democratic incumbent Beau Biden - the vice president's son - an easy path to re-election. Doug Campbell is running as a candidate of the Independent Party.
  • Maryland: Doug Gansler, the incumbent attorney general, will have no opposition on the November election ballot, Republican or otherwise.
  • Massachusetts: Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley is without Republican opposition. You would have thought her loss to Sen. Scott Brown in last December's special election to succeed Sen. Ted Kennedy would have increased her political vulnerability and attracted a Republican opponent.

Wisconsin at least will have an AG race in the fall.

Incumbent J.B. Van Hollen is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for attorney general. A conservative, Van Hollen's campaign website reveals an emphasis on law and order and features a video from a speech he gave to Americans for Prosperity, the free-market group.

He will face Democrat Scott Hassett in the November general election. Hassett, the former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is a trial lawyer whose campaign bio speaks for itself:

As a trial attorney, Scott handled civil and criminal litigation in state and federal courts for 22 years. A partner and shareholder at Lawton and Cates, his practice included extensive work representing law enforcement personnel at every level of government. He was involved in many of the environmental cases the firm handled including those involving groundwater pollution and complex chemical or asbestos exposure. In addition to civil rights cases, he also represented Wisconsin's hardworking public employees, including the Wisconsin State Employees Union, as well as various private sector and utility unions.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.