Ten with lengthy tenures

Legal News Line Jul. 2, 2010, 2:30am

Congress lost its longest-serving member this week when Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., died after 51 years in office. Legal Newsline takes a look at 10 state attorneys general who also became fixtures in office. Frank Kelley was both the youngest and oldest attorney general in Michigan's history, serving 37 years until 1999. He was 36 years old when he took office, eventually becoming the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history. He was nicknamed the "Eternal General." Though he didn't take office until he was 53 years old, Louis Lefkowitz still spent 21 years as New York's attorney general from 1957-1978. In 1961, he was the Republican candidate for Mayor of New York City, but he lost in the general election. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has served two lengthy terms in the office, the first from 1979-1991 and the second from 1995-present. He's in his 27th year as AG, and his four-year absence from the office was due to an unsuccessful run for governor. Chauncey Browning, Jr. followed in his father's footsteps to become West Virginia's attorney general in 1969, serving for 16 years until 1985. He is also the only West Virginia AG to have served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General. He passed away Jan. 1, and Gov. Joe Manchin ordered all flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff in his honor. Current West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has one-upped Browning, as he was elected to a fifth term in 2008 in a second straight close win over a Republican challenger. McGraw is also a former state Supreme Court justice and was first elected AG in 1992. Richard Blumenthal's tenure as Connecticut's attorney general may soon be up, but it has already been a lengthy one. He took office in 1991 and has stayed popular in the state. He's currently running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Chris Dodd. Like Kelley, Ulysses Webb served 37 years as a state attorney general. Webb was born in West Virginia in 1864 and ultimately became California's top lawyer from 1902-1939. Isaac Homer Van Winkle was Oregon's attorney general for 23 years from 1920-43, losing in 1938 in his campaign to become a state Supreme Court justice. He died in office. Jay Nixon is Missouri's governor, but he served as the state's attorney general for the 16 years before he took that office in 2009. Nixon has twice lost bids to become a U.S. Senator, but each of his re-election campaigns resulted in easy wins. William Guste followed a long-serving attorney general in Louisiana and ended up serving 20 years after his election in 1972. Jack Gremillion had been AG since 1956 and had been acquitted of charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and fraud in 1971. Still, Guste emerged as the Democratic candidate in 1972.

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