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Wisconsin Attorney General election, 2014

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Wisconsin Attorney General Election

Primary Date:
August 12, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

Race rating: Toss-up

November 4 Election Winner:
Brad Schimel Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
J.B. Van Hollen Republican Party
J.B. Van Hollen.jpg

Wisconsin State Executive Elections
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GovernorLt. GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Treasurer

Flag of Wisconsin.png
The Wisconsin Attorney General election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent J.B. Van Hollen (R) was first elected in 2006 and while eligible for re-election, did not file to run for a third term in 2014.[1]

The race to replace Van Hollen started with a competitive three-way Democratic primary in August, which yielded Susan Happ as the party's nominee. She faced Republican nominee Brad Schimel and Libertarian Party candidate Thomas Nelson. Schimel won a four-year term in the general election. Happ and Schimel argued about their priorities for the attorney general's office during an October 12 debate summarized in the debates section. This page also features election results for the previous three races for attorney general in the past elections section.

Wisconsin is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[2][3][4]

Candidates

General election

Democratic Party Susan Happ[5]
Republican Party Brad Schimel Green check mark transparent.png [6]
Libertarian Party Thomas Nelson[7]

Did not file for election

Republican Party J.B. Van Hollen - Incumbent

Lost in primary

Democratic Party Jon Richards[8]
Democratic Party Ismael Ozanne[9]

Declined

Democratic Party Chris Taylor[10]

Results

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.

Primary election

Democratic election

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.

Republican primary

Brad Schimel won the Republican nomination without opposition.

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Campaign themes

The League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc. sent questionnaires to all three candidates for Wisconsin Attorney General. Susan Happ and Thomas Nelson provided responses, while there was no reply from Brad Schimel. Here are the responses provided by Happ and Nelson prior to the general election:

Susan Happ

1. Please describe your priorities for your term in office and your specific qualifications to effectively address those issues.

1) Combating the heroin epidemic. I have aggressively prosecuted heroin dealers who put others at risk. On the Jefferson County Heroin Task Force, I educate parents, teachers & citizens about the dangers & availability of opiates. 2) Protecting children. We need more supportive services and funding for local law enforcement from DOJ to investigate cases of suspected child pornography & other internet crimes against children. 3) Increased funding for our State Crime Lab & Hygiene Lab. Prosecutors are waiting months for drug test results for drivers suspected of driving under the influence.

2. Please describe any specific administrative efficiencies that you believe the office should implement to improve case processing.

We have seen recently that tips regarding child pornography and internet crimes against children have languished. These tips must be promptly processed and referred to local law enforcement for investigation and prosecution.

3. The Attorney General's office receives referrals for environmental protection prosecution from the Department of Natural Resources. What will you emphasize in handling these referrals?

We must do everything that we can to ensure that our natural resources are preserved for generations to come. As AG, I would make sure that the Environmental Protection Unit works closely with the DNR to identify and aggressively prosecute any organization that puts the quality of our air and drinking water at risk. [14]

—League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc., (2014), [15]

Thomas Nelson

1. Please describe your priorities for your term in office and your specific qualifications to effectively address those issues.

There is a failure in government to enforce the laws against government insiders. This reaches the extreme case when even homicides are covered up and ignored such as the shooting death of Paul Heenan. I would investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute crimes committed by government insiders in the same way as crimes committed by other citizens.

2. Please describe any specific administrative efficiencies that you believe the office should implement to improve case processing.

Attention should be paid to all criminal cases regardless of who the suspect is.

3. The Attorney General's office receives referrals for environmental protection prosecution from the Department of Natural Resources. What will you emphasize in handling these referrals?

These should be investigated and prosecuted in the same manner as other suspected crimes. Politics should not lean the enforcement of the law toward certain crimes while being lax on others. Enforcement should be even and uniform. [14]

—League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc., (2014), [15]

Debates

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.[16]

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.[16]

Polls

Wisconsin Attorney General, General election
Poll Brad Schimel (R) Susan Happ (D)Other/UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Marquette University Law School
September 11-12, 2014
39%38%20%+/-3.5800
Marquette University Law School
October 9-12, 2014
42%42%16%+/-3.21,004
WPR/St. Norbert College
October 19-21, 2014
41%40%19%+/-4603
Marquette University Law School
October 23-26, 2014
43%39%14%+/-2.71,409
AVERAGES 41.25% 39.75% 17.25% +/-3.35 954
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaign media

Susan Happ


Susan Happ ad: Harley Redux

Susan Happ ad: Happ for Attorney General

Brad Schimel


Brad Schimel ad: Law Enforcement's Choice

Outside organizations

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce


WMC ad: Prosecutor Brad Schimel Fights Heroin

Wisconsin Republican Party


Wisconsin GOP ad: Susan Happ: Conflict of Interest

Campaign finance

Comprehensive donor information for this election has been collected by Follow the Money. Based on available campaign finance records, the candidates raised a raised a total of $2,517,744 during the election. This information was last updated on January 20, 2015.[17]

Campaign Contribution Totals
Candidate Office Result Contributions
Brad Schimel Republican Party Wisconsin Attorney General Won $1,210,359
Susan Happ Democratic Party Wisconsin Attorney General Defeated $853,689
Jon Richards Democratic Party Wisconsin Attorney General Defeated $325,411
Ismael Ozanne Democratic Party Wisconsin Attorney General Defeated $128,285
Thomas Nelson Libertarian Party Wisconsin Attorney General Defeated $0
Grand Total Raised $2,517,744

Past elections

2010

Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJ.B. Van Hollen Incumbent 57.8% 1,220,791
     Democratic Scott Hassett 42.1% 890,080
     - Scattering 0.1% 1,614
Total Votes 2,112,485
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

2006

On November 7, 2006, J.B. Van Hollen won election to the office of Attorney General of Wisconsin. He defeated Kathleen Falk (D) in the general election.

Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJ.B. Van Hollen 50.2% 1,065,453
     Democratic Kathleen Falk 49.7% 1,056,594
     - Scattering 0.1% 2,420
Total Votes 2,124,467
Election Results Via: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

2002

On November 5, 2002, Peg Lautenschlager won re-election to the office of Attorney General of Wisconsin. She defeated Vince Biskupic (R) in the general election.

Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngPeg Lautenschlager Incumbent 51.6% 882,945
     Republican Vince Biskupic 48.3% 826,862
     - Scattering 0.1% 1,488
Total Votes 1,711,295
Election Results Via: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
June 2, 2014 Filing deadline
August 12, 2014 Primary election
November 4, 2014 General election
December 1, 2014 Certification of results
January 5, 2015 State executives inaugurated

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Wisconsin + Attorney + General + elections"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Wisconsin Attorney General Election News Feed

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See also

External links

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Suggest a link

References

  1. Wis Politics, AG Van Hollen: Van Hollen will not seek re-election, October 7, 2013
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  3. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  4. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  5. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidates Registered by Office," February 17, 2014 (dead link)
  6. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha County DA Brad Schimel formally launches attorney general run," October 14, 2013
  7. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CERTIFICATE OF NOMINATION," accessed July 4, 2014
  8. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rep. Jon Richards enters race for Wisconsin attorney general," October 16, 2013
  9. The Republic, "Democratic Dane County district attorney Ozanne announces run for attorney general," November 7, 2013
  10. TH Online, "Democrat Taylor not running for Wisconsin attorney general," October 31, 2013
  11. Green Bay Press-Gazette, "Poll: Governor, attorney general races are dead heats," September 19, 2014
  12. FOX 6 Now, "In a crowded Attorney General race — Susan Happ gets the Democratic nomination; will face Brad Schimel," August 11, 2014
  13. Pioneer Press, "Wisconsin attorney general race focuses on sexual assault prosecution," September 25, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  15. 15.0 15.1 League of Women Voters of Dane County, Inc., "Wisconsin Attorney General," accessed October 14, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Green Bay Press-Gazette, "Attorney general debate shows differing philosophies," October 12, 2014
  17. Follow the Money, "Overview of Wisconsin 2014 elections," accessed January 20, 2015