Attorney general candidates, supporters talk about school safety, rape kits

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(D) Josh Kaul and (R) Brad Schimel

MADISON, WI -Republican Brad Schimel is narrowing his lead in the race for attorney general over Democrat Josh Kaul, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll.

Kaul said he's "not surprised" that his name recognition is not high, during a news conference Wednesday in Madison. But he hopes to change that when he rolls out ads on TV soon.

"We're going to continue traveling around the state and talking about the issues that matter to Wisconsinites and the importance of new leadership in the AG's office," Kaul said.

Schimel also appeared in Madison this week, at an event held by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. He told members of the business lobbying group that while he's ahead in the polls, now is not the time to be complacent.

"I am putting over 2,000 miles a week behind the windshield making sure I'm meeting Wisconsinites, talking to them about their concerns and making sure I get their vote. I'm running like I'm way behind in the polls," Schimel said.

During the news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol, more than a dozen former assistant attorneys general stood in support of Kaul. Several of them criticized Schimel for how long it took to test the state's rape kits.

Schimel has said in the past that he tested the kits as quickly as he could.

On Tuesday, the current attorney general also highlighted his work on school safety.

The state's Office of School Safety was created earlier this year under the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Schimel championed the creation of the office and $100 million grant program in which school districts are awarded money to make security and safety upgrades.

"The plan is giving $100 million to schools to make their schools more secure, make them less vulnerable to someone who wants to commit violence there, but it also requires that they ramp up mental health awareness and response to students who are struggling," Schimel said Tuesday.

Kaul, however, said he does not believe the creation of the Office of School Safety does enough to address the problem.

"We need to do more than just have a one-time award of grants. We need long-term funding for mental health programs in our schools, but we also need some commonsense gun safety measures," Kaul said.

Schimel has said in the past that he would be open to arming teachers, but Kaul said Wednesday that's not the right approach. Instead, he said he's advocating for universal background checks.