The two candidates for attorney general met for the first time during the campaign, on Sunday in Milwaukee. Susan Happ and Brad Schimel are the Democratic and Republican candidates, respectively, although Schimel noted a lot of voters still may not know that.
“The polls keep repeatedly coming to people not having a decision . . . not paying attention, not knowing enough about the candidates to even start paying attention yet,” said Schimel, the Waukesha County district attorney. “We need to start driving some attention to this race.”
Schimel was responding to moderator Mike Gousha’s question about what the candidates would like to change about the campaign. For her part Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, would like more attention paid to for-profit colleges, contending they can be unscrupulous.
“We shouldn’t have students – and particularly they tend to be low-income students and they tend to be veterans – who are actually being targeted by these for profit colleges, who aren’t playing by the rules,” she said.
Schimel, who throughout the hour long event at Marquette Law School characterized Happ as an activist who would have an ideological agenda, disagreed that Happ’s proposal ought to be a high priority for the state Department of Justice. Happ claimed that Schimel would blindly defend all state laws even if they’re clearly unconstitutional. “The attorney general is not a robot,” she said.
The only real point of agreement between the two candidates came when Gousha asked them about the contentious issue of criminalizing first-offense drunk driving in Wisconsin. Both candidates said they’d require evidence that it would improve public safety, before pushing for that.
Happ said other OWI penalties also need to be looked at. “A fourth offense drunk driver can serve as little as 60 days in jail,” she said. Shimel said that if needed, he’d direct DOJ resources into looking at how successful criminal charges for first time drunk drivers are in improving public safety in the 49 other states which impose them. “I have my doubts,” he said.