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AG challenger Kaul lays out positions on lawsuits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic attorney general hopeful Josh Kaul has laid out his position on some hot-button legal issues facing the state Department of Justice, saying he would aim to end some litigation but would defend some GOP-backed statutes.

Kaul will face Republican incumbent Brad Schimel in the Nov. 6 election.

“I think the AG’s job is to defend state statutes and stage agency actions if there is a legally defensible position to take,” Kaul told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a report published Thursday.

One of the stickiest situations for Kaul is the department’s defense of voter ID laws. Kaul is the lead attorney challenging those requirements. A federal judge ruled in Kaul’s favor in 2016, but Schimel has appealed. Kaul said if he becomes attorney general he will seal himself off from the case and let others in DOJ handle it.

He added that he would try to end Wisconsin’s participation in multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

He would defend Republican-drawn legislative district boundaries, even though he favors a nonpartisan approach to drawing the boundaries. He also would defend GOP lawmakers accused of blocking liberal group One Wisconsin Now on Twitter, saying Twitter is a means of public communication.

He would end the state’s appeal of a ruling requiring the Department of Natural Resources to consider high-capacity wells’ effect on nearby water bodies.

He also would keep the DOJ out of a lawsuit challenging the school superintendent’s authority to enact regulations without gubernatorial consent.

A group of teachers and parents with the assistance of the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit last year contending Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat challenging Gov. Scott Walker in November, needs Walker’s approval to advance school regulations.

Schimel sought to represent Evers so he could argue that Walker has the final say, essentially stripping Evers of his ability to advance regulations. The state Supreme Court in June refused to allow Schimel to do that and let Evers hire his own attorney.

Schimel campaign manager Johnny Koremenos said Kaul would try to get the state out of too many cases. The attorney general shouldn’t pick and choose laws to defend, Koremenos said.

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