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ANALYSIS: Nearly 70% Of Officials In Right-Wing Health Care Suit Are Up For Re-Election Or Higher Office

By ThinkProgress  

"ANALYSIS: Nearly 70% Of Officials In Right-Wing Health Care Suit Are Up For Re-Election Or Higher Office"

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Even before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, right-wing state attorneys general were announcing their intentions to sue the federal government over the constitutionality of health care reform. Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — who is also an avowed Tea Party loyalist — was the first one out of the gate with a lawsuit, going to Richmond’s federal courthouse to the file papers less than five minutes after Obama signed the legislation. Eighteen other states have also now joined Florida’s similar lawsuit.

These lawsuits are frivolous. Even conservative legal scholars have acknowledged that they have no chance at succeeding and seem to be nothing more than political theater. ThinkProgress has done an analysis of the states suing the federal government and founded that indeed, political motivations do seem to be driving the suit:

Of the 16 attorneys general in the lawsuits, 11 are either running for re-election or higher office. Four, including Florida’s Bill McCollum, are campaigning to become governor, and seven are up for re-election this year.

Four Republican governors have gone around their attorneys general who have refused to sue and joined the lawsuit themselves. Half of them are up for re-election this year, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) is considered a potential GOP nominee for president in 2012.

– South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), who is running for governor, is circulating a video touting his role in the health care lawsuit, which may “open the suits to the charge of playing politics.”

State Name Political Ambitions
Florida Bill McCollum, attorney general (R) Running for governor
Michigan Mike Cox, attorney general (R) Running for governor
Pennsylvania Tom Corbett, attorney general (R) Running for governor
South Carolina Henry McMaster, attorney general (R) Running for governor
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) Re-election as governor
Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) Re-election as governor
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) Possible 2012 presidential candidate
Alabama Troy King, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
Colorado John Suthers, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
Idaho Lawrence Wasden, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
Nebraska Jon Bruning, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
North Dakota Wayne Stenehjem, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
South Dakota Marty Jackley, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
Texas Greg Abbott, attorney general (R) Re-election as attorney general
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) Not up for re-election in 2010
Indiana Greg Zoeller, attorney general (R) Not up for re-election in 2010
Louisiana Buddy Caldwell, attorney general (D) Not up for re-election in 2010
Utah Mark Shurtleff, attorney general (R) Not up for re-election in 2010
Virginia Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general (R) Not up for re-election in 2010
Washington Rob McKenna, attorney general (R) Not up for re-election in 2010

Missouri’s lieutenant governor, Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Wisconsin’s attorney general, and Mississippi’s governor have indicated that they are interested in signing on to the Florida lawsuit as well, although several of them need to overcome legal and political challenges to do so.

At least 11 attorneys general from Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, Iowa, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Oregon, and West Virginia have all refused to join the suit, saying it would be a frivolous waste of scarce taxpayer dollars. The attorneys general from Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, and Nevada have also all decided against suing, but they were overruled by their governors. Tennessee and Missouri’s attorneys general have also opted against joining the suit, but their lieutenant governors are now trying to go around them.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also recently called out the political motivations driving the lawsuits, stating that they have been “filed by Attorneys General in states where they have also some interest in higher office. I’m going to let the lawyers go debate the situation. [But] we are confident that the legal standing of the law is solid and that this has more to do with politics than policy.”

– Amanda Terkel and Nick McClellan

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