Susan Happ

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Susan Happ
Former candidate for
Attorney General of Wisconsin
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
J.D.University of Wisconsin Law School
ProfessionLicensed attorney
Campaign website
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Susan Happ was a Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Wisconsin in the 2014 elections.[1] Susan Happ lost the general election on November 4, 2014.


Happ attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1990 to 1994, earning a B.A. in journalism and Russian. From 1996 to 1998, she went on to earn her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Happ is a licensed attorney in the state of Wisconsin.[2] From 1998 to 2004, Happ was an associate attorney at Monogue & Witt, S.C. and from 2005 to 2008, she was the owner of Happ Law Office, LLC.

Happ was elected to the position of Jefferson County District Attorney in 2008 and won re-election in 2012. She became Jefferson County's first Democratic district attorney since 1938.[2]


  • B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994
  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School, 1998[2]



See also: Wisconsin attorney general election, 2014

Happ ran for election to the office of Attorney General of Wisconsin. Happ won the Democratic nomination in the primary on August 12. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Primary results
Wisconsin Attorney General Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngSusan Happ 52.1% 144,727
Jon Richards 32.5% 90,215
Ismael Ozanne 15.4% 42,627
Total Votes 277,569
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
General election
Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Schimel 51.5% 1,211,388
     Democratic Susan Happ 45.4% 1,066,866
     Libertarian Thomas Nelson 3% 70,951
     Nonpartisan Scattering 0% 1,120
Total Votes 2,350,325
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Race background

Incumbent J.B. Van Hollen (R) did not run for a third term in 2014, leaving an open seat. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel was unopposed in the Republican primary. Schimel's Democratic opponent, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, overcame two challengers to win the nomination. A third candidate, Libertarian Thomas Nelson, also appeared on the November 4 general election ballot.

Polling in mid-September showed that the two major-party candidates were even, with Schimel at 39 percent and Happ at 38 percent.[3] The race became heated, with the candidates differing on issues such as how they would respond to the lawsuit challenging the 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.[4] Happ said that she would not defend the ban while Schimel said that he would defend any part of the Wisconsin Constitution.

Both campaigns attacked their opponent for being soft on crime. Democrats accused Schimel of failing to secure longer sentences for sex offenders while Republicans claimed that Happ deferred prosecution of an alleged sex offender who had purchased a house from Happ until after he paid off his debt.[5]


October 12 debate

Schimel and Happ discussed how they would approach the duties of the attorney general's office during a debate sponsored by Marquette University. A flash point during the debate was the issue of whether the candidates would defend controversial laws like voter ID requirements and a same-sex marriage ban. Schimel argued that he would defend state law because the attorney general is not a" "super-legislator" who picks which laws to enforce based on personal politics. Happ responded by saying that the attorney general is not a "robot," and should not blindly follow state laws that are unconstitutional or run afoul of other principles.[6]

Schimel and Happ found consensus in their skepticism that larger penalties for first drunk-driving offenses would curb such offenses. The opponents also noted that the attorney general's office should be more proactive with treatment programs that could reduce the population of state prisons. Schimel did not have a definitive answer to whether he would defend a state law barring coordination between candidates and outside groups. This issue has emerged as prosecutors investigate whether Gov. Scott Walker's (R) campaign coordinated with conservative groups during an effort to recall him in 2012. Happ responded to accusations by Schimel supporters that she was lenient in a child-molestation case in 2012 because the accused purchased her house. The Democratic candidate noted that she recused herself from the case.[6]

Campaign themes

Happ submitted the following statement to Ballotpedia regarding her political philosophy:[2]

"Wisconsin deserves an Attorney General who will bring justice to victims of crime, protect consumers and working families. I will be a leader in bringing our state together."


Happ is married to Dale Rupprecht and has one daughter, Haley. She enjoys running, reading and riding her Harley Davidson motorcycle.[2]

Happ is also affiliated with the following organizations:[2]

  • Tomorrow's Hope, Inc
  • Rotary Club of Jefferson
  • Reducing Recidivism Coalition
  • Jefferson County Community Coordinated Response Team
  • Jefferson County Drug Task Force Steering Committee
  • Domestic Homicide Prevention Review Team
  • Jefferson County Heroin Task Force
  • Jefferson County Chiefs & Sheriff Association
  • Jefferson County Bar Association
  • Wisconsin Bar Association

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