How no endorsement will impact the race for attorney general

MADISON, Wis. — Republicans at the state party convention this weekend declined to endorse a candidate in the primary for attorney general, which Ryan Owens, a former Republican AG candidate and current UW-Madison professor, said means voters still want the chance to weigh in.

The endorsement race was between Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney and former state Rep. Adam Jarchow.

“I’m not surprised that there was a non-endorsement with this,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of uncertainty about Eric Toney’s background and I think Adam Jarchow is a relatively recent entrant to the race. I think people just wanted to see that before things move forward.”

Owens said right now, the difference is between a long-running candidate and a recent newcomer.

“Given the amount of time the Toney campaign has been out there, the fact that there’s a non endorsement, I think, shows that there’s a lot of discomfort with his candidacy,” Owens said. “So the way I look at this right now is this non-endorsement to me indicates that it’s Adam Jarchow’s to lose.”

The attorney general race was not the only one in which Republicans at the convention chose not to endorse. The convention delegates did not endorse in any competitive race that will be on the ballot Aug. 9, including the race for governor and lieutenant governor.

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As to the issues Owens thinks will pervade the campaign, he said crime and challenging federal overreach will appeal to conservative voters — but he said there is an additional level voters will expect.

“I think what conservatives are looking for what Republican voters are looking for, is an attorney general who represents represents them,” he said. “I think they’re looking for people who are going to talk about freedom who are going to talk about security who are going to talk about broader issues are what they’re going to bring to bear to the state of Wisconsin to the Department of Justice.”