Schimel says he puts ‘public safety over politics’ on ‘UpFront’

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel slammed Democratic candidate Josh Kaul in a TV interview, comparing Kaul’s campaign to that of failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton didn’t come to Wisconsin during the presidential campaign, and she lost Wisconsin,” Schimel told “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“My opponent is not out campaigning, and that’s going to hurt him,” Schimel said.

“He’s not presenting ideas to the people of Wisconsin about what he’s doing.”

Schimel made his comments in response to a question about Tuesday’s Marquette Law School Poll, which showed Schimel leading Kaul 48 percent to 41 percent.

Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed in the poll said they either hadn’t heard enough or didn’t know enough about Kaul to have an opinion of him.

Kaul, the son of former Dem AG Peg Lautenschlager, worked as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore and is now a Madison attorney.

Schimel also defended himself against charges that he has politicized the attorney general’s office.

“I put public safety over politics,” Schimel said.

Asked to respond to a letter from 45 former assistant attorneys general who were highly critical of his work, Schimel dismissed the criticism.

“Almost all of them have Democrat donor histories. Almost all of them signed the recall petition. Some of them are people I fired,” he said. “These are people whose opinions shouldn’t be acknowledged.”

Schimel also defended his participation in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare is a failure,” Schimel said.

“As the attorney general, I defend the constitution. If a rule or law is unconstitutional, my job is to go after it.”

Also on the program, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said Democrats have a real shot at being the majority party when the chamber reconvenes next year.

“Clearly there is momentum, there is enthusiasm. We find ourselves in an environment where Democrats are excited,” Shilling said.

She cited two special elections earlier this year in which Democrats were successful. Patty Schachtner was voted into office in western Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District and Caleb Frostman was elected in northeastern Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District.

Republicans have controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature since 2011. Republicans currently hold an 18-15 majority in the Senate.

“People have been dissatisfied with the agenda that has been put forward,” Shilling said.

She said Democrats will be focused on infrastructure, such as improving roads, bridges, broadband and schools.

She noted that Democrats have more female candidates running during this midterm election cycle.

“Something is lacking from the discussion, and it’s the viewpoint and the voices of women,” Shilling said.

Shilling also said there’s been no movement on a legislative session to provide a multi-million-dollar incentive package to Kimberly Clark. The company has said it needs the legislature to approve the package by Sept. 30. Without it, KC would likely close one of its Fox Valley plants, costing some 500 employees their jobs.

Gov. Scott Walker has urged the Senate to take up the proposal by the end of the month. But Shilling said Republican legislative leaders are struggling to find support for the incentive package and that she hasn’t talked with them in recent days.

“They seem to be a little rudderless trying to figure out if they have enough votes in their caucus,” Shilling said.

“My door is open. They know where the office is.”

Shilling said Democrats would prefer legislation that helps the entire papermaking industry, rather than a single corporation.

The third guest on Sunday’s program, NextGen America Wisconsin Director George Olufosoye, said his organization has already collected 37,000 “pledge to vote” cards from students at 26 Wisconsin college campuses.

California billionaire Tom Steyer is funding the group’s effort to get young voters to the polls. Wisconsin is one of 11 states being targeted by NextGen.

“In 2016 young people didn’t turn out to vote,” Olufosoye said. “They didn’t really have a candidate that they felt was connected to the issues that they were passionate about,”

Olufosoye, an immigrant from Nigeria who grew up in Milwaukee, said NextGen Wisconsin is focused on three issues: affordable health care for students, student loan debt and gun safety.

“Young people are the largest, most diverse voting population America has ever seen,” Olufosoye said.”

“I think if we can harness this power, organize and turn out to vote, we can really change this state in a way that provides equal opportunity for everyone and justice.”

See more from the show:
https://www.wisn.com/upfront

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