The position of state attorney general is regarded as just below the governor. The joke that “A.G.” stands for “Aspiring Governor” is cited in print from at least 1989, when a California newspaper described it as an “old political joke.”
Eliot Spitzer was first elected New York’s attorney general in 1998 and the “AG” joke label was frequently applied to him. (Spitzer was elected governor in 2006.) The label has also applied to New York’s attorney general Andrew Cuomo.
20 July 1989, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), “As Election Time Nears, the Attorney General Shows Some Initiative”:
There’s the old political joke that AG stands for “aspiring governor,” since some believe the ticket to being top dog is be a strong prosecutor, ...
4 December 1992, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Political Briefing” by Lynn Sweet, pg. 62:
Burris, the aspiring governor: “National Association of Aspiring Governors” is what Attorney General Roland W. Burris (three-quarters announced for ...
5 March 1995, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Democrats Try to Patch Things Up” by Jo Mannies, pg. 3C
Nelson, seemingly unaware of the Carnahan-Nixon rumors, quipped that some seem to think that “AG stands for Aspiring Governor.”
1 February 1996, Wilkes Barre (PA) Times Leader, pg. 3A
Citing his lack of political experience as a strength, Kohn said, “This is a campaign to make AG stand for `Attorney General’ not `Aspiring Governor.’ “
14 September 1996, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Swinging Away at First Debate; Attorney General? Kohn Says Fisher Has Other Ideas,” pg. B4:
In his opening salvo, Kohn called for the election of someone who would make the initials AG stand for attorney general “instead of aspiring governor.”
5 July 1997, Sun Herald (Biloxi-Gulfport, MS), “Politics Far From Mind of Moore; Attorney General Is Taking a Break,” pg. A1:
Kirk Fordice, who has fought Moore’s efforts as being anti-business, has said AG stands for aspiring governor instead of attorney general.
New York (NY) Times
High-Profile Suits Shine Spotlight on State Attorneys General
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
Published: Sunday, June 28, 1998
The job of state attorney general has sometimes been ridiculed as attracting ambitious officeholders and then stranding them in political oblivion. According to one old political maxim, ‘’A.G.’’ stands not for attorney general, but for aspiring governor.
New York (NY) Daily News
FULL STEAM AHEAD SUCCESS AS AG WON’T HARM SPITZER’S WORK WITH GOV
By TRACEY TULLY
Thursday, November 26th 1998, 2:05AM
ALBANY Given the choice, Gov. Pataki wanted Eliot Spitzer as a teammate, not a rival.
Sources familiar with a 1997 conversation between the two men say Pataki, a Republican, made a pitch to bring Spitzer, a Democrat, to Albany as the state’s criminal-justice czar.
In a pre-emptive victory announcement last week, Spitzer acknowledged the career-climbing possibilities of being AG an abbreviation that politicos joke stands for “aspiring governor” and he vowed to serve out his entire term.
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Subject: Republicans Try to Circumvent the Law.... Again.
AGs and governors often are political rivals, giving rise to the often-repeated joke that AG stands for “Aspiring Governor.”
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Subject: Big Government, Big Contributors, and Little Taxpayers
As University of Texas Law Professor Lino Graglia says, the AGs seek high profile cases because “it is in their personal interest to receive publicity, and publicity in terms of being a battler for consumer protection.” Many pundits have observed that “AG” often stands for “aspiring governor.”
Rethinking California: politics & policy in the Golden State
By Matthew Alan Cahn, H. Eric Schockman, David M. Shafie
Published by Prentice Hall
In government, it is often said that “AG” stands not for attorney general, but for “aspiring governor.
29 July 2003, New York (NY) Sun, “Spitzer, the ‘King of Torts’” by William Tucker, pg. 6, col. 2.
Not for nothing are “AGs” called “Aspiring Governors.”
Houston’s Clear Thinkers
December 7, 2004
“AG" means “Aspiring Governor”
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer - for whom New York Governor George Pataki’s press secretary once noted that “AG” stood for “Aspiring Governor” - confirmed today what everyone who has not lived the past few years on a deserted island already knew—that he will run for governor of New York in 2006.
Spoiling for a Fight:
The rise of Eliot Spitzer
By Brooke A. Masters
New York, NY: Macmillan
Ambitious state attorneys general had never been shy about bringing cases — political wags often said that “AG” was short for “aspiring governor.
Provost, Colin. “When Is AG Short for Aspiring Governor? Institutional Structure, Policy-Making Dynamics and Ambition in the Office of State Attorney General” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the MPSA Annual National Conference, Palmer House Hotel, Hilton, Chicago, IL, Apr 03, 2008
Providence (RI) Daily Dose
AG Stands for Aspiring Governor
3:36PM ON 07/03/2008
BY Ariel Werner
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Monday, May 25, 2009 • Permalink