The races for state attorney general in 2022 were the third most expensive on record when adjusted for inflation, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of campaign finance records. Incumbent attorneys general and top fundraisers were largely victorious at the ballot box.
Candidates in the 30 states that held elections for attorney general this year raised more than $161 million, when including donations from the primary and general elections. Nine states set new fundraising records. This figure is expected to increase as candidates file year-end campaign finance disclosures.
In nearly every race, the winning candidate outraised their general election opponent. The only outlier is Kansas’ former secretary of state, Kris Kobach (R), who defeated the Democratic nominee, retired police officer and prosecutor Chris Mann. Kobach raised $1.1 million, about $350,000 less than Mann – although that could change once more data becomes available.
Despite the record-setting elections, the partisan landscape is likely to remain unchanged. If Democratic nominee Kris Mayes maintains her narrow margin of victory in Arizona, which remains too close to call, Republicans and Democrats will emerge from the midterm elections controlling as many elected attorney general offices as they did at the end of 2021 — 23 and 20, respectively.
Voters largely stuck by the incumbent attorney general or elected the candidate from the incumbent’s party. The sole exception, so far, is in Iowa, where Republican Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird defeated the state’s longest-serving attorney general, Tom Miller, a Democrat.
The 2022 race was a re-match between Bird and Miller, who first faced off in 2010. Until this year, that race was the state’s most expensive for attorney general, with the two candidates together raising about $2.2 million in the race. Bird alone shattered that record in 2022, drawing almost $3.1 million in political contributions ahead of the midterm elections. Two-thirds of that money came from the Republican Attorneys General Association, a 527 tax-exempt political organization focused on electing GOP candidates.
All told, the Iowa attorney general race drew a record $4.9 million, making it the third most expensive election in the state this year after the race for governor and U.S. senate. Bird defeated Miller by nearly two points.
Whether this means Republicans gain a seat now depends on the outcome of the Arizona election, which is still too close to call. With an estimated 95% of the vote counted, former Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes, a Democrat, maintains a lead of 0.1% over Abraham Hamadeh in the race to replace the state’s outgoing Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich.
Hamadeh, a veteran Army Reserve intelligence officer endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is among 10 GOP candidates for attorney general who have spread misinformation about election fraud or questioned the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. He raised nearly $2 million, while Mayes brought in $2.7 million. Like Iowa, Arizona saw record fundraising in 2022.
Besides Miller, the only other incumbent to lose reelection was Idaho’s Republican attorney general, Lawrence Wasden. He lost the GOP nomination to former U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador, who, like Hamadeh, has sown doubt about the 2020 election. Labrador repeatedly criticized Wasden for refusing to join a Texas-led lawsuit in 2020 seeking to overturn election results in four battleground states won by Biden.
Every other incumbent running in the general election was reelected, including attorneys general Josh Kaul (D-Wis.), Dana Nessel (D-Mich.) and Phil Weiser (D-Colo.), who were among a handful of potentially vulnerable Democrats targeted by the Republican Attorneys General Association.
RAGA-affiliated political groups in half a dozen states spent more than $10.3 million on attorney general races this cycle, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of disclosures. That figure is likely to increase as more data becomes available.