Three vie for vacant attorney general slot

Story by Nate Beck, News Editor

The vote on Wisconsin’s next attorney general is almost a year away, but the race is already in motion.

Attorney general candidate Jon Richards made a stop in Eau Claire to speak to  college democrats Friday.

Democrat Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne, announced his candidacy Nov. 7.

Richards and Ozanne will face Republican Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel in the Nov. 4, 2014 election, after Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced last month he won’t seek a third term.

It’s the first open attorney general race since 2002.

Richards has worked in the state legislature for the past 15 years, including tenure on the state Joint Finance Committee. He taught English in Japan and worked with Mother Theresa in India.

“I think the office of the attorney general is an important place to defend basic human values,” Richards said. “Like equal protection under the law. Our current attorney general is not upholding that law.”

All three candidates listed heroin as a primary problem in Wisconsin. Each candidate favors drug courts as a way to rehabilitate offenders.

“We need to provide resources to local law enforcement officers to address this problem,” Richards said. “We need to punish people who are trafficking heroin, but we need to do everything we can to get people off the cycle of addiction to heroin.”

Schimel served for about seven years as Waukesha County’s district attorney and 16 years before that as assistant
district attorney.

“It’s important for the Attorney General to be competant and effective to protect the economy and citizens from government overreach,” Schimel said.

Melissa Mulliken, a senior strategist for the Ozanne campaign said Ozanne’s biggest concern is public safety. She said Ozanne would push against “racial disparities” as attorney general.

“There’s no civil rights division of the attorney general’s office,” Mulliken said. “District Attorney Ozanne feels there should be no second class citizens.”

The next district attorney will decide whether to take legal action on a number of hot  issues Wisconsin’s legislature passed in the last two years.

Among these, the three candidates differ cheifly on abortion and voter ID legislation.

Richards and Ozanne are pro-choice.

Richards won a Planned Parenthood Voice For Choice award. His mom was also a Planned Parenthood nurse ractitioner.

“I’ve always believed women have the right to make their own healthcare choices,” Richards said. “It’s concerning to see how deep they are interfering with those choices to the point of physically invading a woman’s body. I think that takes us in the wrong direction as a state.”

Schimel, on the other hand, doesn’t. He has two daughters, both adopted from teenage mothers.

“I have two amazing daughters thanks to those women,” Schimel said. “If I win I will uphold the law of the land.”

Schimel supports recent voter ID legislation. He said it’s important to make law that allow the Attorney General to go after voter fraud.

Richards and Ozanne both oppose a voter ID bill that could require a voters to bring a photo ID with them to the polls.

“One of our core values as a society is, everyone who is eligible to vote should be able to vote,” Richards said. “I think the voter id law we have in place right now I think it goes too far.”