The Dane County district attorney who attracted statewide attention for challenging Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill is considering running in the 2014 Attorney General primary, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While reports of District Attorney Ismael Ozanne running for office are unconfirmed, two candidates have already announced campaigns for the office: Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee; and Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, running as a Republican.
The announcements occurred after current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced his decision to not seek a third term.
“I believe no person should be attorney general for life, or for too long. Our democracy requires a balance of experience and fresh views,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “For my family, for me and this office, it’s time to give Wisconsin voters new choices.”
Having announced his candidacy early last month, Richards said he is extremely enthusiastic about how his campaign has been received around the state.
“My goal in general is to return the office of Attorney General to an office to protect consumers, protect the environment, to preserve women’s rights to health care and return it to a clean office,” Richards said.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Jesse Dougherty issued a statement after Richards’ announcement that said the Department of Justice has made progress in protecting communities from crime and restoring the public’s confidence in law enforcement under Van Hollen.
The statement also said Richards’ support for the Early Release program, which allowed certain individuals in the prison system to be released prior to their original sentencing, presented a danger to the state.
“While the Department of Justice has made great progress over the last several years, it’s clear that Richards would revert that process. Wisconsin’s safety should never be compromised, and we can’t afford to go backward,” Dougherty said.
Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, confirmed last week that she would not be running for the office of attorney general because she loves her current job as a state representative and would like to continue representing her constituents in the Legislature.
However, Taylor said that the current attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, had failed in the office.
“Wisconsinites have witnessed an increased politicization of the state’s Attorney General position under J.B. Van Hollen,” Taylor said in a statement Friday. “The Attorney General is not just the ‘top cop’ but also must defend our most fundamental constitutional rights.”
Mike Browne, a spokesperson for One Wiscosnin Now, a progressive advocacy organization, said there is a need for change in the office.
Noting the lack of response from Van Hollen on investigating the United Sportsmen scandal that may have involved Gov. Scott Walker, Browne said that Van Hollen was clearly pursuing a political agenda.
Submission of nominations for candidates will begin on April 15. If necessary, a partisan primary will be held on Aug. 12, and this will be followed by the general election on Nov. 4 of next year.
Ozanne’s office did respond to requests for comment.