Susan Happ wins Democratic attorney general primary

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Associated Press
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MADISON—Susan Happ, a rural district attorney who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in her only campaign ad, handily defeated two other Democratic challengers Tuesday to win the nomination for attorney general.

Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, beat state Rep. Jon Richards, of Milwaukee, and Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney. She advances to face Republican Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel in the Nov. 4 general election.

“We’re overwhelmed and thrilled,” said Happ campaign manager Josh Lease.

Former Trek Bicycles executive Mary Burke easily defeated longshot candidate Brett Hulsey to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Hulsey raised almost no money for the campaign and was largely shunned by party leaders, donors and other office holders.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker was unopposed in the primary.

The attorney general’s seat is open after incumbent Republican J.B. Van Hollen decided against seeking a third term.

Mark Schaitel, a retired pizza restaurant owner from Madison, voted for Happ because he said he liked her position on wanting to rehabilitate drug offenders. But Schaitel and other voters said they had a hard time differentiating among the three Democrats.

“They kind of blend together,” said George Esser, 65, a retired state employee from Madison. He didn’t vote for anyone in the attorney general race.

Voters also were casting ballots in contested primaries in five congressional districts, more than two dozen legislative races, and the Democratic lieutenant governor’s race. Turnout was expected to hit only 15 percent, as none of the statewide races generated much excitement or interest.

The candidates for attorney general have struggled to differentiate themselves in a campaign where they largely agreed on most issues. Richards is the only one of the three without experience as a prosecutor. Happ is the only one who doesn’t support making first-time drunken driving offenses a crime, rather than just a traffic citation as it is now.

Ozanne lagged in fundraising, while Richards was the first to get on television with an ad touting his experience. Happ released her first spot a week before the election, showing her riding a motorcycle and emphasizing her experience as a prosecutor.

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