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Battle heating up in race for Walworth County DA

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STANLEY B. MILAM
June 5, 2012
— The two Republican candidates for district attorney in Walworth County—there are no Democratic candidates—ramped up their campaigns last week in advance of the recall election.

Signs for Dan Necci have been popping up all over the county the past two weeks. Both candidates have been going door to door for weeks.


"The recall election is front and center, but we have an August primary, so I've tried to get out in front early," Necci said. "But, the recall is getting most of the attention."


Necci's opponent, Steve Harvey, agrees there is a need to ramp up the campaign before the recall.


"You probably won't see much about our race before the recall, but with an early primary, you have to be ready to go as soon as the recall votes are counted," Harvey said.


Harvey and Necci will square off in the August primary. With no Democrat on the ballot, the Republican primary winner is virtually assured a November general election victory.


Harvey has researched Necci's record and found what Harvey believes will be a key campaign issue. Necci enjoys key endorsements, including the backing of the Republican Party of Walworth County. It's unusual for the county party to endorse in a primary.


Harvey believes his experience will trump Necci's endorsements.


"I conducted a search on the Wisconsin court system's Consolidated Court Automation Programs from 2005, when my opponent was admitted to the bar, to the present," Harvey said. "I could find no case in which he served as the attorney during a criminal jury trial."


Harvey said criminal jury trial experience is critical when seeking to be a district attorney.


"A district attorney must be able to succeed at trial or criminals go unpunished and community safety is threatened," Harvey said. "Criminal defense attorneys in this county have substantial jury trial experience. The district attorney must also have substantial experience to counter this pressure to ensure a just outcome."


Necci downplayed criminal jury trial experience.


"The most important role of a district attorney is decision making," Necci said. "As the manager of the office, the district attorney must make all kinds of decisions including criminal prosecutions, budget decisions and must connect with the people of Walworth County."


"We need someone in that office who lives, serves and worships in the area he represents," Necci said. "I'm that candidate, unlike my opponent, who lives in Jefferson County."


Harvey said he is temporarily living out of the county but plans to move back into Walworth County soon. Candidates may run for office living in another county but are required to live in the county when elected.


"I'm 11 years younger than my opponent," Necci said, "and I have less experience, there's no question there.


"Whether to go to trial is determined by my clients," he said. "I serve my clients and their best interests. I don't force them to go to trial."


Necci has a jump start in campaign signs. His red and white signs have been going up for weeks.


"I have a lot of friends and supporters at the grassroots level helping me," Necci said. "When you have that kind of support, it makes it a lot easier to get signs and literature out."


Harvey said he has dedicated most of his time to garnering signatures and researching issues.


"That phase of the campaign is over, and now you'll see my signs and other indications of the campaign," he said.



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