Josh Kaul
Courtesy: Josh Kaul campaign

Josh Kaul, an attorney who successfully challenged Wisconsin voting laws and the son of former attorney general Peg Lautenschlager, announced on Monday his plans to challenge Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel for the job.

Kaul, 36, is an attorney with Perkins Coie in Madison, where he focuses on voting rights and election law. Perkins Coie represents the Democratic National Committee and its candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

Kaul is the first Democrat to declare candidacy for attorney general. Schimel announced in December his plans to seek a second term in 2018, after defeating Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ in 2014. 

"We deserve an attorney general who is focused on protecting Wisconsin families, not on partisan politics," Kaul said in a statement. "We haven’t had that kind of leadership under our current attorney general, and that needs to change."

Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Kaul served as a federal prosecutor in Baltimore and as an attorney in Washington, D.C. He grew up in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, and graduated from Stanford Law School. He and his wife have two sons.

"Josh Kaul has built his entire career as an attorney for liberal special interests and Washington insiders like Hillary Clinton," said Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Alec Zimmerman in a statement. "By contrast, Attorney General Brad Schimel has fought for Wisconsin families by improving public safety, upholding the rule of law, and stopping federal overreach from Washington."

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Lautenschlager, also a Democrat, served as attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and resigned from the state Ethics Commission on Friday ahead of Kaul's campaign launch.

Kaul represented plaintiffs last year in a challenge to voting changes signed implemented by Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans. A federal judge ruled restrictions on early and weekend voting, along with a handful of other changes, were unconstitutional. The case is now under consideration by a federal appeals court.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.