January 24, 2008

AG = "Aspiring Governor"

Now that I've gotten a good start on the school prayer clips, I've moved onto the tobacco arena. In a 1996 Time magazine article on the issue I found a quote by a tobacco lawyer who found cause to snipe at the legion of attorneys general around the country filing suit against his employer to recover lost Medicaid disbursements. He proposed: "Do you know what the 'AG' in attorney general stands for? 'Aspiring Governor.'"

It's true that attorneys general often cause trouble as they struggle to move up in the world--but not in the context of Florida's battle against Big Tobacco. Florida's attorney general in 1996, Bob Butterworth, has never run for governor. Neither has Maryland's tobacco-fighting attorney general, J. Joseph Curran, for that matter--who served as AG from 1987 to 2007. On the tobacco issue, Attorney General Butterworth and Governor Chiles worked as a team. In some states, the AG office and the Governor's fought each other. In West Virginia and Mississippi, the governor filed suit against his own state's AG to stop the tobacco cases from going forward.

Career politicians in the state executive branch interest me quite a bit. Gov. Jim Hunt served North Carolina for four terms! There was a brief gap between the consecutive two-term blocks. Why did he return?

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