MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) – With only weeks remaining until Election Day, two Wisconsin district attorneys are neck-and-neck in the polls in the battle to become the state’s next top lawyer.
Republican Brad Schimel, 48, will face Democrat Susan Happ in a tight race to replace current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Background: Nearly a quarter of a century of experience prosecuting criminal cases. Since 2006, Schimel has been the district attorney for Waukesha County, running an office with 16 attorneys working under him. He joined the DA’s office upon earning his Juris Doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990.
Background: District attorney-turned-firm founder. Happ was elected Jefferson County District Attorney in November 2008 with 56 percent of the vote, becoming the first Democrat to hold the position since 1938. She ran unopposed in 2012.
Eyebrow-raiser: Schimel in favor of pay-to-play? On Oct. 3 Scott Ross, director of the progressive communications group One Wisconsin Now, produced a column accusing Schimel of turning a blind eye to corruption.
Eyebrow-raiser: Happ a soft touch on sex offenders? On Sept. 16, the Wisconsin Reporter reported on an ethical complaint against Happ filed by a sexual assault victim. The offender in question, Daniel Reynolds, received a plea deal charging him with disorderly conduct after originally being charged with felony counts of first-degree and second-degree assault of a child.
Endorsements: The law community backs Schimel. Apparently, his time as a prosecutor has netted him dozens of endorsements from sheriffs and fellow district attorneys.
Endorsements: Unions and liberal groups want Happ. Among some of the more prominent unions backing Happ are Iron Workers Local No. 8, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and United Auto Workers. Several progressive groups, such as Emily’s List and Fair Wisconsin, have also endorsed Happ.
Funding: Koch brothers support Schimel. Entering the month of August, Schimel had raised more than $420,000 in campaign contributions, raking in more than $53,000 in the month of July alone.
Funding: Happ’s most generous campaign donor is Happ. Throughout the first eight months of the 2014 election cycle, Happ has raised more than $213,000 in contributions, an amount that includes a $20,000 loan to her campaign.
Issues: Public safety. Throughout his campaign, Schimel has made public safety a focal point, maintaining that his first priority, if elected, would be combating the increasing heroin problem in the state.
Issues: Protecting consumers. Like her Republican rival, Happ has promised to crack down on Internet predators and fight the heroin epidemic. Protecting consumers from less than legitimate entrepreneurs has also been a central theme of Happ’s candidacy.