The two Dem candidates seeking to succeed Dem Caucus Chair Mark Miller in the state Senate largely agree on most of the pressing issues lawmakers will face after being sworn into office.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, and Monona Grove School Board president Andrew McKinney both said in interviews with they support the police reform measures proposed by Gov. Tony Evers that seek to ban chokeholds and no-knock searches and ensure deadly force is used only as a last resort.

The pair also criticized the GOP-backed tough-on-crime package Evers vetoed in May. They also said they support expanding Medicaid and using state aid to provide resources to local governments to cover the cost of replacing lead laterals.

The only daylight between the two candidates came on a pair of policy items: Evers’ proposals to address gun violence; and the concept of shifting local police funding to community programs and social services.

Sargent wholeheartedly backed proposals to expand the number of gun sales and transfers requiring a background check and create a so-called “red flag” law, noting she was the lead author of both pieces of legislation.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis in the state of Wisconsin and across our nation,” she said. “It’s only partisan within the Capitol building.”

McKinney, a Gulf War veteran who said he’s running to give voice to “the 85% who don’t get heard,” told he supported expanding background checks and ensuring gun owners receive “quality training” on how to use their weapon. But he didn’t touch on a measure that would allow family members or police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed to present a danger to themselves or others.

The pair also offered slightly different answers when quizzed on if they philosophically support redirecting funding from local police departments.

McKinney said he supported those calls, adding he preferred to think of those efforts as “reallocating” as opposed to “defunding.” He focused on providing mental health services specifically to law enforcement officers.

“There gotta be a lot of mental health issues in a police force, and all of these are officers who need to get evaluated,” he said.

Sargent, meanwhile, said she is “someone who believes in the importance of honoring local control.” Still, she called for pumping more resources into human services and “addressing the egregious racial disparities that we are experiencing in Wisconsin.”

The winner of the Aug. 11 primary will face Republican Scott Barker in November.

Hear the interviews:

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