Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will face a challenger for his job in the August primary, and it will be someone from within his office.
Former Kenosha County District Attorney Bob Jambois, who for about the past year has worked as an assistant district attorney in Dane County, announced Tuesday that he is running for Ozanne’s job.
“The people in the DA’s office deserve a leader and the people of Dane County deserve a DA who shows up for work and holds violent repeat offenders accountable,” Jambois wrote in a statement issued Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, on his campaign’s Facebook page, Ozanne said he had become aware of a challenger.
“I plan to run a positive campaign, focusing on my achievements and my goals for the future of the Dane County District Attorney’s Office,” Ozanne wrote.
This isn’t Jambois’ first attempt to get the Dane County DA’s job. In 2010, after then-District Attorney Brian Blanchard was elected to the state 4th District Court of Appeals, Ozanne and Jambois were among those who sought appointment to the DA’s job.
Jambois, who was then the state Department of Transportation’s chief legal counsel, withdrew his name, citing personal reasons. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle appointed Ozanne, who became the state’s first African-American district attorney.
Ozanne was elected to the job unopposed in 2012.
Both Ozanne and Jambois are Democrats. No Republicans have so far filed nomination papers ahead of the deadline on Wednesday. If there are no candidates from other parties, the primary election on Aug. 9 would be decisive.
Both Ozanne and Jambois were involved in the fight over Act 10, the controversial state law that sharply curtailed the collective bargaining rights of most public sector workers in Wisconsin. Ozanne attacked the process by which the bill was passed, winning a brief stay but ultimately losing before the state Supreme Court.
Jambois represented state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, in the court fight.
More recently, Ozanne and two other district attorneys, John Chisholm of Milwaukee County and Larry Nelson of Iowa County, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court a state Supreme Court decision halting a secret “John Doe” investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and so-called “issue advocacy” groups.
In his announcement, Jambois noted many experienced prosecutors have left the district attorney’s office, saying that Ozanne’s administration has “undervalued and demeaned” attorneys in the office.
Jambois also criticized Ozanne for not personally prosecuting jury trials, claiming that Ozanne hasn’t done any during his six years on the job.
“If you’re going to be the chief prosecutor, you need to prosecute jury trials,” Jambois said.
Ozanne was co-prosecutor in the jury trials of Chad Chritton, who was convicted in 2013 of the abuse and neglect of his daughter.
The first trial ended with a felony neglect conviction and a misdemeanor neglect acquittal but was deadlocked on four other felony charges.
In the second trial, Chritton was convicted of three more felonies.
Ozanne has said many times over his tenure that state funding for prosecutor positions is severely below what it should be. In his Facebook announcement, he highlighted things he intends to continue pursuing, including advocating for more resources and staffing for the DA’s office, supporting continued treatment alternatives for low-risk offenders, pursuing government corruption cases and enforcing the state open records law.
Jambois is currently special prosecutor in the case of Mark Jensen, who was convicted in 2008 for the 1998 poisoning death of his wife. But in 2013, a federal judge overturned the conviction, and an appeals court upheld that decision. The case was sent back to Kenosha County for a new trial.