The candidates for Attorney General held their last debate on Wednesday night, which was sponsored by WISC-TV, the State Bar of Wisconsin, and Wispolitics.com.
Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ is the Democratic candidate, and Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel is the Republican candidate. They are vying for the “top cop” position held by current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who is not seeking reelection after serving for eight years.
A recent Marquette University Law School poll shows that Schimel has a slight lead, 43 percent to 39 among likely voters. Among registered voters, they are tied at 40 percent. Interestingly, both candidates are largely unknown. Sixteen percent in the poll indicated they were unsure for whom to vote. Sixty-eight percent responded that they haven’t heard enough of or don’t have an opinion of Happ, while 71 percent said the same of Schimel.
Happ Pledges to Prosecute Offenders, Protect Families, and Keep Communities Safe
Happ was elected District Attorney of Jefferson County in 2008 as a Democrat, the first Democrat to be elected to that position in Jefferson County in 70 years. Prior to being elected, Happ practiced law in a private firm, where she largely worked as a defense attorney. She earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
When it comes to the issues, Happ has said that one of her top priorities is stopping Internet predators. Specifically, Happ says she would make it a “priority to see that tips are processed more quickly and provided to local law enforcement to get predators off the streets and away from children.”
A top priority in Wisconsin law enforcement is fighting the heroin epidemic, and both candidates outline plans for fighting the epidemic. Happ has also called on suing private, for-profit colleges which she claims use “high pressure tactics to target prospective students in our state.”
If elected, Happ has also pledged to be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws. Says Happ, “tragically, virtually all of our state’s lakes and rivers and streams have been compromised by pollutants such as mercury.”
Unlike her opponent, Happ says she would not defend all of the state laws. Specifically, Happ said if she had been Attorney General, she would not have defended the State’s Voter ID law or the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Happ is married to Dale Rupprecht, and has a daughter.
Schimel Running on Prosecutorial Experience and Rule of Law
Schimel touts his track record as a prosecutor with 24 years of experience in the Waukesha County Distrct Attorney’s office, as well as being elected District Attorney of Waukesha County in 2006. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Schimel points to his support among law enforcement, including being endorsed by 89 sheriffs and district attorneys throughout the state. He also has the support of the Wisconsin Troopers Association, Milwaukee Police Association, Wisconsin Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, and Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
In addition, Schimel was appointed to the Wisconsin Judicial Council, Wisconsin Crime Victim Council, and is the founding member of the Waukesha County Victim Impact Panel and was president of the Preventing Alcohol-Related Crashes Task Force.
If elected as Attorney General, Schimel has made attacking heroin and opiate abuse his top priority. Earlier this year, Schimel unveiled his plan, titled S.T.O.P. Heroin, which stands for “Support and Training for Opiate Prevention.” Specifically, Schimel proposes to work with neighboring states to share data and training techniques, convene an upper-Midwest Attorneys General Association to discussion solution and share resources, and aggressively prosecute heroin and opiate drug traffickers.
In other issue areas, Schimel highlights: working with local law enforcement to equip them with resources to handle human trafficking cases, addressing gun violence in Milwaukee County, placing responsibility of the Wisconsin Crime Lab in the Department of Justice, and protecting property rights from agency regulations.
He and his wife Sandi have two daughters.