MADISON (WKOW) --- Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced Monday he will not seek re-election to a third term in office.
In an interview with Milwaukee radio station WTMJ, the two-term Republican A.G. said it was time for him to consider another endeavor, possibly in the judiciary, the business world, or some other field. "And it will be time to give someone else a chance," Van Hollen said in the interview. Van Hollen declined an interview request from 27 News.
People who have already expressed an interest in the state's top-cop job, or have been discussed by representatives of the state's political parties as possibilities, include: Milwaukee democratic representative Jon Richards; Madison democrat, Rep. Chris Taylor; Republican Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel; U.S. Attorney for the eastern district James Santelle; former democratic state senator Jessica King; and democratic district attorneys John Chisholm of Milwaukee County, and Ismael Ozanne of Dane County.
Van Hollen said it's possible he may endorse a candidate.
"I think it's very, very important that we have somebody with administrative, and management, and law enforcement experience," Van Hollen said in the radio station interview. "If you find somebody with all three, that really narrows the field to an elected D.A., or to a U.S. Attorney, or very limited to others."
During Van Hollen's tenure, he's defended both the state's requirement for photo identification for voting, and its limits on public employee union collective bargaining, or Act 10. Both laws are on hold because of court challenges. Department of Justice spokesperson Dana Brueck says Van Hollen plans to argue the state's case for the union limits in oral arguments before the state supreme court next month.
Van Hollen says his investment in more DNA analysts at the state crime laboratory has eliminated a backlog of hundreds of crime cases at the lab. Van Hollen also says the department of justice worked more closely with law enforcement partners across the state than in the past, building more public trust in DOJ's work.
In a statement, Van Hollen said the decision-making at DOJ during his tenure has focused on the law, and not politics. Van Hollen decried activism by attorneys general that thrust them inappropriately into policy roles.
Van Hollen's predecessor, former democratic state attorney general Peg Lautenschlager tells 27 News the department of justice's functioning has been consistent under the leadership of attorneys general from either political party.
Lautenschlager says Van Hollen's DOJ has engaged in some forms of activism, citing what she said was the unprecedented step of assistant attorneys general prosecuting state capitol protesters for municipal-level violations.
Here is the statement Van Hollen released:
Today I wish to share with you my decision not to seek a third term as Attorney General and to thank you for the confidence you have placed in me.
When I chose to stand for this office eight years ago, I had a clear vision of what an Attorney General should do, and as importantly, should not do. Simply put, I believed Wisconsin needed an Attorney General who would fight crime and restore integrity.
Your votes in 2006 and 2010 provided me the opportunity of instituting this vision. I have kept faith with my promises.
During my administration, we have put public safety first. We eliminated the DNA backlog at the state crime laboratories and expanded our efforts and ability to fight crimes against children. We upheld our commitment to assist local law enforcement, through training, investigative assistance, and advocacy. We supported crime victims by restructuring victim services funding to improve long term stability and expanding outreach. We launched the statewide criminal justice coordinating council and merged the Office of Justice Assistance's law enforcement support programs into the Department of Justice, allowing the state to more efficiently and effectively support local law enforcement and create the infrastructure to develop data and information driven approaches to criminal justice problems.
We have restored integrity in multiple ways. We have put the law and the rule of law above politics, thus eliminating the all-too-common Attorney General activism that grows government and contributes to political discord and dysfunction. Legal opinions of the Attorney General became just that: legal opinions, not my personal opinions. We have vigorously enforced and defended laws, whether those laws were supported by Republicans, Democrats, or both. We also upheld integrity by emphasizing fiscal responsibility. We achieved record recoveries in our Medicaid Fraud Control and Elder Abuse Unit and I voluntarily returned Department funds to the public treasury.
By putting public safety first, I believe the Department of Justice now enjoys healthy partnerships with local law enforcement and prosecutors, which leads to the better investigation, prosecution, and hopefully prevention of crime. By focusing on public safety and putting my duties above politics, I have enjoyed the confidence of two governors and productive relationships with each of the four Legislatures, whatever their varied political compositions. Because they recognized the Department acted with fiscal responsibility and integrity, they trusted the Department to effectively and efficiently implement expanded programs, like DNA forensics, and new initiatives, like the concealed carry permitting program. Without their support and law enforcement's support, many of my administration's accomplishments would have been difficult if not impossible to attain.
I am proud of these accomplishments and I remain deeply committed to the Department of Justice's mission and continuing our successes throughout the remainder of my term. The decision not to run will allow me to focus exclusively on the remaining tasks without the distractions of a campaign. I believe no person should be Attorney General for life, or for too long. Our democracy requires a balance of experience and fresh views. For my family, for me, and this office, it's time to give Wisconsin voters new choices.
It is a privilege and an honor to serve the people of Wisconsin. Thank you for placing your trust in me. I look forward to serving as your Attorney General for the next 15 months.
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