Republican State Attorney General Brad Schimel has conceded his re-election bid to his Democratic challenger Josh Kaul, saying he won’t seek a recount in a race decided by about 17,000 votes.
In a statement released Monday, Schimel, Wisconsin’s top law-enforcement official, said “my team and I believe the 17,000-vote gap is definitive.”
Kaul declared victory in the race the day after the election.
In his own statement Monday, Kaul thanked Schimel for his service and vowed to be “an advocate for all Wisconsinites.”
With a 0.65 percent vote margin separating Schimel and Kaul, the Republican incumbent could have requested a recount, but state law would have required his campaign pay for it.
That could have cost his campaign some $2 million, the amount third-party presidential candidate Jill Stein doled out to verify the results of President Donald Trump’s victory in the state in 2016.
Schimel’s latest campaign finance filings from Oct. 22 show he had just $106,485 in his campaign account, meaning he would likely have had trouble paying for a recount.
Schimel said that “in the end, we felt the odds of finding enough votes were too narrow to justify putting the county clerks, their staff and the public through such an ordeal at this time.”
“The people of Wisconsin are good, God is great, and I accept the verdict of the electorate. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Wisconsin’s attorney general,” he said.
Kaul, a Madison attorney, will be the first Democratic Wisconsin attorney general since 2007 — when his late mother, Peg Lautenschlager, held the post. She first assumed the office in 2003.
Kaul has said one of his first orders of business as attorney general will be to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit approved by the current Republican administration seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act.
The Democrat has also vowed to defend Wisconsin’s GOP-created legislative district maps in an ongoing gerrymandering lawsuit that could again head to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Journal reporter Mark Sommerhauser contributed to this report.