WI Attorney General candidates highlight very different philosop - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WI Attorney General candidates highlight very different philosophies during 1st televised debate

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WISCONSIN (WKOW)-- Election Day is just a few weeks away and 20% of voters still can't decide which attorney general candidate to vote for. That's according to the latest Marquette Law Poll that shows Republican AG candidate Brad Schimel narrowly beating his Democratic candidate Susan Happ 41% to 39% among likely voters. The poll says that one in five voters still haven't made a decision.

Both candidates worked to separate themselves from their opponent during their first statewide televised debate Sunday night. Their backgrounds are similar with both graduating from the UW-Madison Law School in the 1990's and both getting jobs as district attorney's in the late-2000's.

The candidates even see eye to eye on certain issues, including Wisconsin's current heroin problem, the state's drunk driving laws and the state's high incarceration rate for African-American men. However, the way they view the roles and responsibilities of an attorney general couldn't be more different.

"We've got to enforce the laws the way they are written and we've got to defend Wisconsin law. I'm a prosecutor and as the head of the Department of Justice, we'll make a commitment to the rule of law," Schimel says during Sunday's debate.

Happ sees the position a little differently. If elected AG she wouldn't defend laws that she feels are unconstitutional. During the debate she cited laws such as Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban and the Voter ID law.

"The attorney general is not a robot. The attorney general has to be able to look at the law, compare it to the constitution and determine if it passes constitutional muster," Happ explains.

Besides their philosophies about how the job works, both candidates differ on which issues are the most important. Their priorities were displayed by the the kinds of issues the two candidates brought up during the debate.

Happ says she will work to protect women's rights to make their own health care decisions, will crack down on for-profit colleges that issue "phony degrees" that don't help students get jobs and will work to make sure women are paid equally for their work.

Schimel brought up his multi-faceted plan to tackle the state's heroin issue and the fact that more voters need to be educated about the AG race.

Both candidates will participate in at least two more televised debates this month. The debates will be held on October 24th and 29th in Madison. Both debates start at 7:00 p.m.


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WISCONSIN (WKOW)-- Election Day is just a few weeks away and 20% of voters still can't decide which attorney general candidate to vote for. That's according to the latest Marquette Law Poll that shows Republican AG candidate Brad Schimel narrowly beating his Democratic candidate Susan Happ 41% to 39% among likely voters. The poll says that one in five voters still haven't made a decision.

Both candidates worked to separate themselves from their opponent during a statewide televised debate Sunday night. The debate was hosted by WISN-TV in Milwaukee and featured moderation from political host Mike Gousha. Both candidates spoke on a variety of topics, but the most glaring difference in opinion was the way each perceives the job of attorney general.

"We've got to enforce the laws the way they are written and we've got to defend Wisconsin law. Wisconsin needs to be able to count on their lawyers to step up to the plate and defend our laws when they are under attack," Schimel says.

"Certainly you have the obligation to enforce the laws of the state of Wisconsin, but you also have a sworn obligation to uphold the constitution. To the extent that there is a law that directly conflicts and is blatantly unconstitutional there is an ethical duty not to defend that law," Happ says.

Tonight on 27 News at 10:00 p.m. Gordon Severson has more highlights from Sunday night's debate.
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