This blog post is the first installment in a series of posts highlighting newly elected Attorneys General, and commenting on how their priorities may differ from their predecessors’.
Wisconsin’s new Attorney General, Democrat Josh Kaul, won a narrow victory over the incumbent Republican, Brad Schimel, by about 20,000 votes. Before his election Kaul was an associate at Jenner & Block, a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, and a voting rights attorney in Wisconsin. He ran on a platform of ending gerrymandering and improving voting rights; fighting the opioid epidemic; protecting against consumer fraud and pollution; reducing the state’s backlog of untested rape kits; implementing gun control measures; and legalizing medical marijuana.
Kaul will differ from his Republican predecessor in a number of notable respects. For example, Kaul opposed his predecessor’s participation in a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican attorneys general challenging the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality. He called the lawsuit “legally weak,” and categorized its potential consequences as “devastating.” You can therefore expect Kaul to pull Wisconsin out of the suit. Kaul also criticized Schimel for not joining other state attorneys general in suing opioid manufactures. A suit from Wisconsin against those manufacturers thus seems likely to happen in the near future. Next, Kaul’s criticism of his opponent’s failure to protect against consumer fraud and pollution suggests stronger enforcement in those areas. And finally, Kaul’s support for medical marijuana, along with Wisconsin’s new Democratic governor’s support for the same, bodes well for that industry’s prospects in the Badger State.