Reflecting the bitter partisan divide over health care, governors in at least six states are at war with attorneys general from the other political party about whether to join litigation challenging the new federal health insurance mandate.
In four states — Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington — Democratic governors are criticizing Republican attorneys general for joining the lawsuit over their objections. On Friday, those governors wrote to the federal attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to offer their assistance in defending the new law against the litigation filed by their own states.
In Georgia and Mississippi, meanwhile, Republican governors are chafing at the reluctance of Democratic attorneys general to join the lawsuit on their behalf. They are exploring ways to circumvent their states’ top legal officers and join the case anyway.
The disputes carry a heavy overlay of election-year politics. Not only are Democrats and Republicans supporting the positions of their national parties, but three of the attorneys general are running to succeed the governors they are battling, and a fourth is considering a race in 2012. Each faces a primary that requires appealing to the party base.