On May 22 Acting AG Barbara Underwood (D) was appointed by a joint session of the state Senate and Assembly to serve out the remainder of former AG Eric Schneiderman’s (D) term after he resigned in the wake of abuse allegations. AG Underwood pledged that she will not run in November. Prior to former AG Schneiderman’s fall from grace, political pundits predicted that he was a shoo-in to win re-election to a third term as AG. During his tenure, he evolved into a high-profile figure with national notoriety for leading his Democratic colleagues in litigation challenges against the Trump Administration. There were even reports that he considered running for Governor in 2018, but he opted instead to run for re-election once Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) made clear his intent to seek another term.
The rapid pace of the recent developments in New York highlight the fluid nature of AG elections. In June, four incumbent AGs are facing competitive primary elections – Alabama AG Steve Marshall (R), California AG Xavier Becerra (D), Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter (R), and South Carolina AG Alan Wilson (R). In August, Minnesota AG Lori Swanson (D) also has a competitive primary election. There is thus the potential for additional AG open seats to emerge. There is also the prospect for two additional AG open seats after November. Missouri AG Josh Hawley (R) and West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey (R) are running for U.S. Senate. AG Morrisey won the Republican nomination and AG Hawley is expected to win the Missouri Republican primary on August 7. Neither has resigned as AG and their four-year terms do not expire until 2020. If these seats become vacant, the Missouri and West Virginia state Constitutions’ grant the Governor the authority to appoint an Acting AG until a successor is elected or appointed to fill the remainder of the term. If AGs Hawley and Morrisey are unsuccessful in their respective bids for higher office, they will remain AG for the next two years.