One of the frustrations of running as a Republican incumbent this cycle has been the lack of a focus on the records of the Democratic challenger.
If you look back at the questions Tony Evers has been asked since the beginning of the campaign, the media has not asked him once what he has done to address a failing school. That’s because in the entire time Evers has been an education bureaucrat, he has done nothing to hold failing public schools accountable. Instead the focus has been almost entirely on Governor Scott Walker’s record.
Unfortunately, the same is true in the race for Wisconsin Attorney General. To be fair, part of the problem is that the Democratic candidate, Josh Kaul, has almost no record on which to run.
Not that you would know from the mainstream media.
Kaul has never been a prosecutor in a criminal case in Wisconsin. Not one. For a brief time, before becoming Hillary Clinton’s lawyer during the recount in 2016, Kaul was a federal prosecutor in Baltimore. The media has never dug into any of his cases there, probably because there were so few.
Schimel himself, in the first debate, asked Kaul about the approximately 25 cases he handled as a federal prosecutor. “It appears you had three cases go to jury,” Schimel said. “We can’t tell for sure. It doesn’t look like you’ve ever made a closing argument to a jury. How many times have you made a closing argument to a jury in a criminal case?”
Kaul disputed Schimel’s numbers, claiming they were wrong and that he handled more than three jury cases. However, Kaul declined to say how many more, instead focusing on the successful prosecution of one person and saying how dangerous Baltimore is. (Does that mean Kaul was afraid to ride the bus to work?)
Not surprisingly, the media has never followed up on Kaul’s record.
But with two weeks left to go, we can expect the media to comb through over 16,000 cases in Schimel’s career as a prosecutor at the state and county level. They’ll be cherry-picking cases to highlight and dutifully asking the Kaul campaign and One Wisconsin Now for comments.
What’ll be interesting to watch is how Democrats, who had no problem with Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ’s conflicts of interest or Justice Rebecca Dallet’s handling of the Skenandore case, will suddenly become the Judge Roy Bean fan club.
But while the media and the Democrats will find a few cases that Schimel handled to try to nitpick, Josh Kaul’s record (lacking as it is) will go unexamined. Kaul hasn’t even been forced to comment on receiving a donation from Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) despite his record.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement community continues to support Schimel. He has been endorsed by 64 of Wisconsin’s 72 sheriffs and 50 of Wisconsin’s 71 district attorneys, including 21 elected Democrats. As we’re writing this, Schimel received the endorsement of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, too.
Kaul just receives the endorsements of liberal politicians, environmental groups, and former government employees with political axes to grind. Kaul’s ticket-mate, Evers, actually endorsed reducing the state’s prison population by half.
With Kaul’s lack of experience as a prosecutor, and the friends that he chooses, is it any wonder that law enforcement chooses Schimel instead?