(Repeats story first published on Wednesday)
By Lawrence Hurley and Dan Levine
WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO Feb 8 Three of the 19
Democratic state attorneys general who joined Washington state's
legal challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban are
making a politically tricky maneuver: they are from states that
went for Trump in the November election.
The attorneys general of Pennsylvania, North Carolina and
Iowa - key states for Trump in his presidential election victory
- say they signed on to the legal action seeking to overturn the
travel restrictions because of the potential impact of the
presidential order on their states.
"When someone says to me you're doing this in a state that
Trump won," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told
Reuters, his response is: "Trump is doing this in a state that I
Pennsylvania was a crucial swing state in the 2016 election
between Trump, a Republican, and Democratic opponent Hillary
Clinton. Trump ended up winning the state with nearly 3 million
votes. On the same night Shapiro, a Democrat, won 86,000 more
votes than Trump to become the state's attorney general.
Shapiro said political considerations played no role in his
decision to help coordinate a Democratic legal response on the
Trump travel ban, which he believes is unconstitutional. If
Trump enacts policies that enhance the rights of Pennsylvanians,
Shapiro said he would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with him.
Charlie Gerow, a Republican political strategist in
Pennsylvania, said he doubts Shapiro took much of a risk in
opposing Trump's order, in part because he was just elected and
voters likely will not care in four years when he runs again.
"My guess is he believes that it is important to his base
that he be perceived as a leader in this fight," Gerow said.
Trump's Jan. 27 executive order barred entry to the United
States to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90
days and imposed a 120-day halt on all refugees, except refugees
from Syria, who are barred indefinitely.
Washington state challenged the legality of the order,
claiming it discriminated against Muslims, and a Seattle federal
judge suspended the order on Friday. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals is now reviewing that ruling.
ODD ONES OUT
Just two of the nation's Democratic attorneys general did
not sign on to the fight, and both were from deeply Republican
states where the political risk was potentially greater.
Jim Hood, Mississippi's attorney general since 2004, told
Reuters budget concerns kept him from joining with his
colleagues in other states on the legal action.
But he said he was "grateful to these attorneys general for
carrying the fight on this important issue."
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won his election
by just 2,000 votes in 2015, said in a statement that he
declined to join his colleagues because "when you join in other
large groups that make statements, you lose your own particular
As for his own views, Beshear said as a Christian he
believes "we have a duty to help families facing terrorism and
oppression," but he did not say whether he thought Trump's order
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, was
elected by a slim margin of 20,000 votes on the same night that
Trump took the state with nearly 200,000 votes more than
Stein, previously a state senator, said he decided to sign
on because Trump's order is hurting his state.
"I ran for the position of attorney general to protect the
people of North Carolina," he told Reuters. "I did not run to
engage in battle with the federal government."
Tom Miller, Iowa's attorney general since 1995, told Reuters
he supported Washington state in the fight but did not expect to
take a lead. He said he hoped to identify areas to work with
Republican attorneys general, none of whom have so far made any
court filings over the Trump travel ban.
"One of the areas I will be looking at in particular is
consumer protection," Miller said.
Dave 'Mudcat' Saunders, a Democratic political strategist in
rural Virginia, said attorneys general in swing states are
unlikely to pay a high price for opposing Trump on immigration.
"They aren't going to gain any votes. They're going to
satisfy their base," he said. "The people who are going to get
pissed off about it weren’t going to vote for them anyway."
(Editing by Sue Horton and Bill Rigby)