By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Democratic Dane County district attorney who unsuccessfully sued to stop Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining restrictions announced Thursday he is running for Wisconsin attorney general.
Ismael Ozanne told supporters in an email that his 13 years as a prosecutor prepared him for the job as the state’s top law enforcement officer. His entry sets up a primary with fellow Democrat Jon Richards, a state representative from Milwaukee.
One Republican, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, has also announced he’s running. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, has said he is considering running as an independent.
The seat is open after Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced he won’t seek a third term.
Ozanne, in his statement, played up his experience as a prosecutor, which is certain to be an issue in a campaign against Richards, who has been in the Legislature for the past 15 years.
“The people of Wisconsin want an attorney general who is an experienced front-line prosecutor with a deep commitment to working on behalf of all the people of Wisconsin in order to enforce the law, protect and uphold the constitution, and protect our shared values,” Ozanne said in the email. “That is who I am and that is what I will bring to the attorney general’s office.”
Richards referred calls to his campaign spokesman, who issued a statement from Richards.
“We need a serious effort to take partisanship out of the attorney general’s office, and I’ve got the proven record to get that done,” Richards said in the statement. I’m looking forward to the campaign over the next year and to being Wisconsin’s next attorney general.”
Republicans blasted Ozanne.
“Ismael Ozanne is an extreme partisan with a long record of putting politics over public safety and the well-being of Wisconsin families,” said Wisconsin Republican Party executive director Joe Fadness. “As a leader in the Department of Corrections, Ozanne helped implement the failed early release program, which put hundreds of dangerous criminals back on the streets. Wisconsin can’t afford Ismael Ozanne as its top cop.”
Ozanne worked at the Department of Corrections between 2008 and 2010 serving a year as executive assistant and one year as deputy secretary, the second-highest position. During that time he helped implement Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s program designed to lower costs by allowing some low-level offenders to be let out early.
In 2010, Doyle appointed Ozanne as district attorney in Dane County, the second-largest county in the state. He was unopposed for re-election last year.
It was in his position as district attorney that Ozanne brought a lawsuit in 2011 challenging Walker’s law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers. Ozanne argued that the Legislature violated the state open meetings law in passing the proposal. The case was ultimately rejected by the state Supreme Court.
The primary is set for Aug. 12 and the general election is Nov. 4.