Battleground Wisconsin: Three Republicans vying for spot against Kaul in Wisconsin Attorney General’s race

MADISON, Wis. — Statewide races on the Tuesday ballot include lieutenant governor, state treasurer, and secretary of state primaries in both parties, and a Republican primary for attorney general. 

“People don’t pay enough attention to this position,” Former State Representative Adam Jarchow said. 

Jarchow is running against Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney and conservative lawyer Karen Mueller for a chance to beat the current attorney general, Democrat Josh Kaul, in November.

Experts say a party switch in this seat could bring a power shift we haven’t seen since the early 2000s.

“If you had a Republican attorney general and a Republican governor and a Republican legislature, I think you would see a lot of new policies and new takes on issues,” said Michael Gousha, senior advisor in law and public policy at Marquette University.

Those issues include public safety.  

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, crimes like homicide and car theft have gone up in the state in the past 3 years. Toney says that means the state’s top cop should have experience prosecuting those crimes.  

“I’m the only Republican candidate in our race for attorney general that has ever prosecuted a case and used the resources of our Department of Justice fighting to keep our communities safe,” Toney said.

Jarchow is calling for more law enforcement spending.

“We’ve put out a plan called our Make Wisconsin Safe Again Plan, and it calls for fully funding our brave men and women in law enforcement because we have a crisis of morale, recruitment and retention all across Wisconsin in law enforcement,” said Jarchow.  

The next attorney general will also be responsible for running the state’s crime lab, which saw significant delays with DNA analysis in 2021. 

Attorney General Kaul credited those delays in large part to “short-term impacts of the pandemic.” 

“The reality is Josh Kaul is taking in thousands of less items at our crime lab, he’s testing thousands of less items and he’s longer to do it in most categories including DNA and that’s a failure on his part during this period of historic violence and drugs,” Toney said.   

But one of the most critical issues at hand for the AG race is one law Josh Kaul specifically says he will choose not to enforce — Wisconsin’s abortion ban from the 19th century, triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.   

“He’s picking and choosing when he wants to enforce the rule of law,” Toney said. “Now I happen to be pro-life, endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life as well as Wisconsin Family Action, but I’ve made a commitment when I ran for DA that I would enforce the rule of law.”   

“The job of the attorney general is not a policy-making job. If you want to make policy, run for the state legislature,” said Jarchow. “If the legislature decides to make some changes to the 1849 law then that is the law that we would uphold and defend.”

This year’s Wisconsin General Election is November 8, 2022.

This story is a part of News 3 Now’s Battleground Wisconsin primary election coverage. For an in-depth look at the race and the candidates running, click here.