New Face Will Embrace Nebraska Attorney General Office, What's Their Role?

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- For the first time in 12 years, Nebraska will have a new Attorney General this fall.

Current Attorney General Jon Bruning can't run because he's running for Governor.

It's one of the hotly contested races in the primary. The position hasn't changed much over the years. There's only been two Attorney Generals in the past 20 years.

"A lot of people might be confused about the law and order style of courts where is that what attorney's generals are doing, no that's not ag's they're really acting as a legal advisers," said Marty Nader, a political scientist at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Nader says the office is the main consumer watchdog for the state bringing to light issues that affect your pocketbook and safety.

"You can get a lot of lawsuits from within the state, from the state judicial system, in fact, there are so many every single year that it's not possible for the Attorney General to be present in the courtroom for all of those," said Nader.

In fact, Nader says the Attorney General's office has about 100 employees with a lot of lawyers. The Attorney General is the top legal counselor of the state who represents the various state agencies. They are also considered the top law enforcement official making sure local law enforcements are well-funded. The position is also in charge of all major lawsuits against the state or lawsuits from the state of Nebraska.

"It really is more about serving the people and representing their interests, there's a lot more consumer advocacy, there's a lot more criminal and civil issues, they make sure that children aren't abused, that an illegal drug dealer is going away to prison," said Nader.

Nader says the position has changed over the years saying party politics have influenced the office.

"Over time Attorneys General realized we're high-profiled figures here, if there's a major lawsuit involved, we're the spokesperson, we're the figure heads here," said Nader.

The Attorney General can choose which lawsuits to bring to the Federal court.

"It's becoming much more popular for Attorneys General to file lawsuits against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of certain laws," said Nader.

There's also major controversial issues in Nebraska that will rollover to the next Attorney General's administration like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"Whoever is going to be the next Attorney General, Democrat or Republican in Nebraska, they're going to have to navigate either throwing their hat into the ring and getting involved or really sitting on the sidelines and just letting the state department and Federal government determine what's going to happen to Nebraska," said Nader.

The six candidates running for Attorney General are:
Brian Buescher (R)
Allan J. Eurek (D)
Mike Hilgers (R)
Doug Peterson (R)
Pete Pirsch (R)
Janet Stewart (D)