Check out the website: https://lenspoliticalnotes.com Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website. Political Note #358 Laura Kelly Kansas Governor, Political Note #361 Jill Underly Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, Political Note #360 Aaron Ford, Nevada Attorney General, Political Note #366 Tony Evers, Wisconsin Governor
Political Note #367 Josh Kaul Wisconsin Attorney General
2022 General Election
Political parties, particularly the Democrats in the northeast, used to work to have a “balanced ticket.” That meant those running for state office included Irish American, an Italian American, a non-ethnic, and, maybe, a Jew or an Eastern European.
A balanced ticket is different now. I looked at Wisconsin’s current state office holders elected in 2018. All Democrats, the party struggled to regain its past dominance. The narrow margins by which they won cannot be called dominance.
- Governor Tony Evers German, Irish, French-Canadian (he’s a balanced ticket all by himself). He won by .9% and is running for reelection.
- Governor Mandela Barnes African-American. The Governor and Lt. Governor run together in Wisconsin. Barnes is considering running for US Senator
- Attorney General Josh Kaul German-American, South Asian. He won by .6% and appears to be running for reelection.
- State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski Daughter of school teachers with a Polish-American name. She won by 4.1% and is considering running for the US Senate.
- Secretary of State Doug LaFollette His is an old Wisconsin, French-Canadian name, He is a distant relative of the original – “Fighting” Bob LaFollette. First elected to this position in 1974, he has settled in because his runs for other offices failed.
- Supt of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor African-American, appointed after Evers was elected Governor. She is not running for election. Jill Underly, daughter of a blue-collar family, is the Democrat in the “non-partisan” election scheduled for April 6.
Josh Kaul https://www.joshkaul.org got his undergraduate degree from Yale (double major in history and economics), his law degree from Stanford (President of Law Review). He clerked for a judge in the first circuit, worked for a big DC law firm, and then worked as a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office of Baltimore. He returned to Wisconsin to practice law before he ran and was narrowly elected Attorney General in 2018.
The last Democratic Attorney General in Wisconsin was Peg Lautenschlager — Josh Kaul’s mother. Wisconsin’s first female attorney general, she lost her seat in the Democratic primary after a drunk driving arrest. His father, Raj Kaul, whose family had immigrated to the US when he was 13, worked for a turkey processor. His step-father, Bill Rippl, was a cop. His Lautenschlager grandfather was the baseball, basketball, and football coach at Oshkosh High School. Josh Kaul was a fullback on his high school football team and a first baseman on his high school baseball team. Consider that Josh Kaul’s conventional American growing up experience.
Josh Kaul’s success will be measured by how he deals with a few state issues and some national ones. He signed on to a letter from Attorneys General which urged forgiving the first $50,000 of student loans and got flak from people who had paid off their kids loans.
Josh Kaul’s response to the August, 2020 violence in Kenosha earned him the honor of a recall effort along with Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Barnes. Those collecting signatures needed to meet the 25% of voters threshold (a little more than 668,000 signatures). They could not collect enough signatures within the 60 day limit and withdrew their petitions.
Josh Kaul was responsible for investigating the police shooting and paralyzing Jacob Blake. He promised justice. In September, he announced he was enlisting the former Chief of Police in Madison in the investigation. In early January, the US Attorney announced a federal investigation. The following day, the County District Attorney announced there would be no charges filed against the police officer who did the shooting. Josh Kaul has not yet issued his report.
Josh Kaul has taken other controversial positions. He said he expected to defend a 2011 law, Act 10, which weakened the collective bargaining capacity of public sector unions. That position didn’t persuade Republican legislators who insisted on their own attorneys. Nor did Josh Kaul’s position on Act 10 mollify Republicans, when he joined an environmental organization’s lawsuit to stop construction of high capacity wells that reduce the water table.
Josh Kaul’s response to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol was particularly strong and had a slight Wisconsin tinge. He called it “a fascist riot incited by a lame-duck President desperately and illegitimately trying to cling to power based on absurd lies about the election that amount to voter fraud McCarthyism.”
Does it make a difference to the people of Wisconsin or to the rest of us who Wisconsin’s Attorney General is? Consider Josh Kaul against Republican Brad Schimel who was defeated in 2018. Schimel, as Attorney General, appealed and one a Federal District Court case that called for a new trial for an intellectually disabled adolescent who had been coerced into a confession. Would Josh Kaul have appealed that loss? Schimel defended gerrymandering Wisconsin’s state legislature. Josh Kaul would not. Appointed a judge after his election loss, Schimel refused to wear a mask in court after the pandemic began until reprimanded by the Chief Judge. If he were still the Attorney General, Schimel might have joined the Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit to overturn the 2020 presidential election – more than half the Republican Attorneys General joined the suit. Josh Kaul was on the other side of that lawsuit. In the 2018 race, Schimel was criticized for being lenient on sex offenders. Josh Kaul was quick to act to on and announce the arrest of a Democratic Judge who had a cache of child pornography. Schimel might have been quick to act on that as well.
Help Josh Kaul get an early start. He won by an extremely narrow margin in 2018. He’ll need an organization and funds for his campaign. We need Wisconsin to remain Democratic. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by .6, by less than 21,000 votes. We need to consolidate Democratic victories in Wisconsin – for the people of Wisconsin and for the rest of us. Support Josh Kaul https://www.joshkaul.org and other Wisconsin Democrats now.
Attorneys General defending their position who won close elections in 2018
Aaron Ford Nevada – won by .4% in 2018
Josh Kaul Wisconsin — won by .6% in 2018
Dana Nessel Michigan — won by 2.7% in 2018
Keith Ellison Minnesota – won by 3.9% in 2018
William Tong Connecticut – won by 6% in 2018
Phil Weiser Colorado – won by 6.5% in 2018
Relevant Organizations to support
The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) https://dems.ag The only committee dedicated to electing and supporting Democratic State Attorneys General.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC). https://democrats.org The official organization of the Democratic Party.
Fair Fight https://fairfight.com Promotes fair elections around the country
Organizations to support
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) https://democraticgovernors.org/about/ …the only organization dedicated to electing Democratic governors and candidates for governor
The Democratic National Committee (DNC). https://democrats.org The official organization of the Democratic Party
Fair Fight https://fairfight.com Promotes fair elections around the country