Lautenschlager, first woman to serve as Wisconsin AG, has died

Peg Lautenschlager, former attorney general, speaks during a Women's Equality Day rally outside the Capitol in Madison on Monday, August 26, 2013. Photo by Michelle Stocker, Capital Times.

Peg Lautenschlager, the first woman to serve as Wisconsin’s attorney general, has passed away, according to Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. She was 62.

Hintz said he has known Lautenschlager since he was a toddler, adding she was so “down-to-earth and real, it could be easy for some to overlook how brilliant she was.”

“I will carry with me the lessons I learned from Peg throughout my career,” Hintz said. “Wisconsin has lost a giant and she will be dearly missed.”

Before winning her sole term term as AG in 2002, Lautenschlager was the Winnebago County district attorney, served two terms in the state Assembly, lost a bid for Congress in 1992 and was appointed the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin from 1993 to 2001.

She lost the Dem AG primary in 2006 as she was challenged by then-Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk following a drunk driving arrest in a state-owned vehicle. She returned to private practice after her loss and later served as chair of the state Ethics Commission. She resigned that post last spring several days before her son Josh Kaul announced plans to run for AG in 2018.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross, who served as Lautenschlager’s spokesman during her 2002 AG race and worked in her office in 2005, called her a “trailblazer and a warrior.”

“Peg was progressive before it was cool and Peg was progressive when it actually mattered,” Ross said.

Tributes poured in from both sides of the aisle. GOP Gov. Scott Walker called Lautenschalger “a dedicated and passionate public servant,” while Republican AG Brad Schimel said she “hired many of the fine public servants who now work at DOJ on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and her dedication lives on through their daily work.”

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