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022221 Political Note #360 Aaron Ford Nevada Attorney General
2022 General Election
Teaching used to be temporary work. In Colonial America and into the early 19th century, teachers were men, young men. Men who would go on to become ministers or lawyers or politicians or would try moving to whatever was the West of their time.
John Adams is a commonly used example. He graduated from Harvard in 1755 and went to work teaching school in Worcester. By 1756, he was reading law with a Worcester lawyer and was admitted to the Bar in 1759.
Teaching was transformed in the mid-19th century. Women began to predominate as teachers, but the tradition of teaching as temporary work for young men was never entirely abandoned. Lyndon Johnson taught. He taught Mexican-American children in 1928-29 in a segregated school in San Antonio before he graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College. After he got his BA, he taught briefly in Pearsall Texas, southwest of San Antonio, and in Houston. He left to become the legislative secretary of a newly elected Congressman.
Aaron Ford https://www.fordfornevada.com is in the teacher to lawyer, teacher to politician tradition. He’s 48 years old and may never be elected president. Governor of Nevada is not out of the question. He is an effective politician. Within a few years of his election to the Nevada State Senate, he was the Democratic Leader. A few years after that, he was elected Nevada’s Attorney General – by .4% of the vote.
He’s tall and careful about how he dresses. He has cultivated a signature – suit and bow tie. He is ambitious and says: “My motivation was to be different than what I experienced growing up, I want my kids to see what a real man looks like.”
His dad worked in the produce section of a supermarket. He lost his job when the market decided to abandon Texas. Not long after that, Aaron Ford’s dad abandoned the family. His mother had been working whatever jobs she could to bring in money to the family. With her husband gone, she found a steady job working nights. She told Aaron, her oldest, he was the man in the family.
Aaron Ford had some help. Like Raphael Warnock, he is a beneficiary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Like Raphael Warnock, “Upward Bound,” was crucial for helping him be successful in school – despite his family responsibilities, despite his family’s financial troubles.
His adjustment to college life wasn’t altogether smooth. Aaron Ford got drunk on campus and was arrested. Did they only arrest drunk Black kids? He bought a tire for his car – nothing down. And was arrested for payments not being up to date. When you include the interest, how much was he paying for that tire? Did they arrest white customers for falling behind in their payments? He arranged a payment plan and the charges were dropped – but not before he missed a couple of court dates. He was arrested for missing the court dates, too.
His girlfriend had a baby while he was at Texas A & M. He took responsibility for the baby and became his single father. His eventual wife, Berna Rhodes-Ford joined in that responsibility. They went on from Texas A & M to Austin where she went to law school at the University of Texas. He taught school for a year while they were there. Berna Rhodes-Ford is as important to Aaron Ford as Abigail or Lady Bird were to their husbands.
Aaron Ford had moved to Austin after graduating from Texas A & M in 1994. They moved to Washington DC where he got a Master’s Degree from George Washington. From there they moved to Columbus, Ohio where he got a Master’s Degree and doctorate in school administration and then switched his goals. He got a law degree from Ohio State and followed his wife to a clerkship in Michigan.
After that, Adam Ford and Berna moved to Nevada where they both worked as lawyers and he became involved in the community. The transition had its complications. They lived the life of prosperous young attorneys, but fell behind in paying taxes and earned notoriety for that. Nevertheless, he ran for the state Senate. Lost the first time, won the second. Aaron Ford had found the right profession for himself.
As a member of the Nevada legislature, Aaron Ford was named the legislature’s “rookie of the year” by the Reno Gazette Journal and Freshman of the year by the Las Vegas Review Journal. He had served as Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, His work on behalf of natural resources got him named Senator of the Year by the Nevada Conservation League.
Aaron Ford earned the respect of his colleagues as well as the press. He was chosen as Minority Leader in the 2015 legislative session. In that role, he sought to protect working families from proposals made by the Republican majority. As majority leader, after the 2016 election, he describes himself as having helped pass legislation that combatted elder abuse, increased transparency for big pharma companies, increased penalties for those who target first responders, and reduced recidivism of the incarcerated through improved education, mental health and substance abuse programs.
In 2018, Aaron Ford ran for Attorney General and won a very close race. As Attorney General, Aaron Fordfought the Trump administration. He wasn’t a leader in the biggest issues. Fights over some of the biggest issues – the Muslim ban, for instance – were either established or ending. He focused on environmental regulations. He wrote a piece about the Trump administration’s roll back of clean car standards.
Aaron Ford equated his work on the environment to the Nevada governor‘s work on Covid-19. He described rolling back regulations as another way the President endangered people’s health and their lives. Aaron Ford’s approach to regulations exemplified his approach to racial issues. He argued “Air pollution also disproportionately affects our most vulnerable neighbors, including children, seniors, people of color and low-income communities.” That’s a quiet way of talking about environmental racism.
Aaron Ford has little margin for error in 2022. His .4% win in 2018 was 4,533 votes. We don’t know if Republican Wesley Duncan will be back in 2022 to run again. Duncan had been the previous Attorney General, Adam Laxalt’s chief assistant. Against Duncan, Aaron Ford claimed a position in the political middle. Adam Laxalt and his chief assistant were far to the right.
Aaron Ford https://www.fordfornevada.com will continue to claim middle ground and has a decent chance to win again. But not without resources. Help him with that. We need Democratic State Attorneys General just as we need Democratic Governors, Senators, and Members of Congress.
Attorneys General defending their position who won close elections in 2018
Aaron Ford Nevada – won by .4% in 2018
Josh Kaul Wisconsin — won by .6% in 2018
Dana Nessel Michigan — won by 2.7% in 2018
Keith Ellison. Minnesota – won by 3.9% in 2018
William Tong Connecticut – won by 6% in 2018
Phil Weiser Colorado – won by 6.5% in 2018
Relevant Organizations to support
The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) https://dems.ag The only committee dedicated to electing and supporting Democratic State Attorneys General.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC). https://democrats.org The official organization of the Democratic Party.