A good way to gauge the performance of Wisconsin’s attorney general is by watching the headlines.
If the state’s chief legal officer is constantly in the news, he or she is probably grandstanding or, worse, failing to properly manage the Department of Justice.
But if the AG mostly avoids political games and scandal, leading to a lower profile, that usually means he or she is doing a solid job and fairly administering justice.
That’s been Attorney General Josh Kaul’s record these past four years, despite some very divisive times. Kaul has tended to stay above the partisan fray, running his agency in a reasoned and deliberate way.
The Wisconsin State Journal endorses Kaul for a second term in the Nov. 8 elections. The Democrat has earned public trust and is a better choice than his Republican opponent, Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney.
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Kaul brings a calm, clear and disarming demeanor to the sensitive and important job of leading the Justice Department. The attorney general provides advice and representation to state leaders and agencies. He conducts and supports criminal and civil investigations, oversees the state’s crime labs, victim services, a school safety office and more. No other official in state government has more power to defend Wisconsin’s open government laws.
Kaul is a Wisconsin native who grew up in Fond du Lac and Oshkosh. His mother, Peg Lautenschlager, was Wisconsin’s attorney general from 2003 to 2007. His stepfather was a cop. A hard worker and high achiever, Kaul studied economics and history at Yale, then earned his law degree from Stanford.
As a federal prosecutor in Baltimore before returning to Wisconsin in 2014, he put killers, drug traffickers and gang members behind bars. So he can’t be painted as weak on crime.