Try 1 month for 99¢

Brad Schimel has done a solid job as Wisconsin’s attorney general for four years, and he previously led the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office, serving as a prosecutor for nearly a quarter century.

That’s a lot of experience, including handling thousands of court cases and managing large government institutions. The state Justice Department employs the equivalent of 680 full-time people, with a $134 million annual budget. And Waukesha is Wisconsin’s third-largest county.

Schimel’s resume is considerably more substantial and applicable to the attorney general’s job than that of his opponent, political newcomer Josh Kaul. The son of former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, Kaul has worked three-and-a-half years as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, as well as some time as a law clerk and lawyer. Kaul shows a lot of promise as a sharp legal mind. And after returning to his home state of Wisconsin in 2014, he won a high-profile case overturning some restrictions on early voting.

But Kaul, a Democrat, lacks significant management experience. When asked about that weakness during a meeting with the State Journal editorial board last week, Kaul pointed to the many law enforcement officers he worked with on drug, homicide and gang-related cases on the East Coast. Those cases were important. But working with colleagues is different than managing them and their budgets.

Schimel, a Republican, offers voters in the Nov. 6 election for attorney general a broader skill set and stronger record of accomplishment. He enjoys bipartisan support from sheriffs and district attorneys across the state, and he stood up for Wisconsin’s open records law — against members of his own party, who wanted to gut transparency rules — when it mattered the most.

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board endorses Schimel for another four-year term.

Schimel has been tough and smart on crime. Besides putting lots of bad guys away, he has helped to expand drug courts across much of the state that emphasize treatment over incarceration. He eliminated a backlog in sex assault kits that had gone untested.

When the GOP-run Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee tried to slip sweeping secrecy provisions into the state budget over the July Fourth weekend three years ago, Schimel denounced the move, and the language was withdrawn. Schimel also has urged state and local government officials to limit how much they charge for copies of public records.

We haven’t always agreed with Schimel, such as when he defended Gov. Scott Walker’s blatantly political and failed attempt to delay special elections to fill vacant seats in the Legislature last summer. But Schimel is the best and most experienced choice for attorney general in next Tuesday’s vote.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.