UW-Madison Professor Ryan Owens today announced his campaign for attorney general, setting up a primary for the GOP nomination to take on Dem incumbent Josh Kaul next fall.

Owens worked in former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s legal office and has led the Thompson center on campus. He joins the race two weeks after Fond du Lac County DA Eric Toney launched his bid.

In an interview with WisPolitics.com, Owens knocked Kaul for putting his political ambitions before the safety and security of Wisconsinites. He also criticized the AG for rebuffing calls from GOP legislative leaders to join a 13-state lawsuit, which aims to overturn a federal ban on states using federal stimulus money for tax cuts.

“I think he needs to join that lawsuit because it’s good for Wisconsin,” Owens said. “No matter your politics, Democrat or Republican, you ought to be pro-Wisconsin.”

Owens doesn’t have any experience as a prosecutor, but he argued the race was about “principles and not positions.”

“I think not only do I have the right experience, but I’ve got the right principles,” he said.

Owens also announced several endorsements: Paul Clement, U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush; former Supreme Court justices Michael Gableman, Daniel Kelly and David Prosser; and former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow.

He also posted a 15-second announcement video to his campaign website saying there is a “leadership deficit” in the state. He also says under Kaul’s leadership, “we’ve seen greater conflict than ever,” while the video shows footage of violent protests.

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