In the first debate of the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Republican primary, all three candidates argued for tough-on-crime policies, restoring gun rights to those convicted of nonviolent crimes, making abortion a crime, and attempting to reshape the law by the United States Supreme Court.
During the debate, hosted by the right-wing legal organization the Federalist Society, Adam Jarchow, Karen Mueller and Eric Toney explained how their handling of the role would be different from that of incumbent Democrat Josh Kaul. Jarchow and Toney are the two favorites and the pair have been attacking each other regularly in recent months. Mueller hasn’t garnered much attention except for his extreme beliefs about the COVID-19 pandemic and his work to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
All three candidates said rising crime should be a top concern for the attorney general and blamed Democrats for a recent spike in homicides in Milwaukee.
Jarchow, a former state official who has never practiced criminal law, said the problem is that prosecutors don’t put criminals behind bars.
“We have a cancer in our criminal justice system,” Jarchow said. “The Attorney General needs to use the bully pulpit to force these attorneys to be transparent and accountable to the counties to ensure they actually put criminals behind bars.”
Toney highlighted one of his main campaign ideas, allowing the Wisconsin Department of Justice to exercise jurisdiction and prosecute all crimes in Milwaukee County.
“Violent crime in Milwaukee is bleeding across Wisconsin, and we need to control Milwaukee to protect the rest of our state,” he said.
Jarchow said if elected, he would take advantage of the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to work to fundamentally change the scope of U.S. government.
“We are looking for every opportunity to restore the balance of power between the federal government and the state government, to rein in the uncontrollable bureaucracy and to ensure the separation of powers,” he said.
Jarchow and Toney also said that if elected, they would enforce an 1849 law that criminalizes abortion except in cases of rape or incest. The law will go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, what she should be doing this summer. Kaul said he wouldn’t enforce the law.
Both men also agreed that the state should consider returning gun rights to certain people with felony convictions.
“We have to be very careful about restoring those rights because we continue to see criminals who are repeat offenders,” Jarchow said. “I hear from people who committed non-violent crimes a long, long time ago… who would like to go hunting with their grandson. Is there a narrow way to restore people’s Second Amendment rights without giving guns to career criminals? Maybe.”
The primary election is scheduled for August 9.
Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Ruth Conniff with any questions: [email protected] Follow the Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.