This is exactly what we want our AG candidates to be doing-they are back to debating the issues and the Democrats.
From the AP-
Republican attorney general candidates Paul Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen focused on criticizing Democrats during a debate Tuesday - their first meeting since Van Hollen told Bucher "you suck" during a break in a heated radio debate.
Van Hollen said after the debate that he has concentrated on what he sees as Democrats' shortcomings, rather than on his Republican opponent.
"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time that has been my focus," Van Hollen said in an interview after the debate during a Brookfield Rotary Club meeting at the Western Racquet Club.
He said he had gotten off track in his remarks Thursday about his GOP opponent.
Bucher said in an interview that he and Van Hollen do disagree on some issues and he will talk about them when asked, but he was not asked about them at the gathering attended by about 50 people.
The two did not criticize one another or speak over one another as they answered prepared questions posed to them by a moderator.
Both said Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager should have gotten involved in the process of negotiating Indian gaming compacts, and made greater efforts to expand the work of state crime laboratories.
"Where's our attorney general? Out to lunch," Bucher said.
Lautenschlager said her attorneys have offered opinions on problems they saw in Gov. Jim Doyle's compact negotiations in 2003. The crime labs have been swamped with an unpredictable 62 percent increase in DNA submissions from 2003 through 2005, she said. The agency has since hired four more DNA analysts and plans to have robotic tests online by fall.
The GOP candidates also said that Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who is challenging Lautenschlager for the Democratic nomination, lacked sufficient law enforcement experience.
But Falk campaign spokesman Adams Collins noted Falk had spent 14 years as an assistant attorney general.
Van Hollen made the "you suck" remark after Bucher interrupted him on the air during their debate on "Mid-Day with Charlie Sykes on Newsradio 620 WTMJ" and called one of Van Hollen's statements stupid. Later in the debate Bucher boasted Van Hollen was getting his "behind kicked" in the polls.
Van Hollen, a former U.S. attorney, sent Bucher an apologetic e-mail Friday saying neither of them should be proud of their performances in the debate and asking Bucher to abide by rules to make future debates more civil. Van Hollen said he meant that Bucher's leadership style sucks because he doesn't listen to people.
Bucher, the current Waukesha County district attorney, responded by saying both men were passionate about the issues and that's healthy in an election.
Also Tuesday, Falk released a four-pronged plan to fight gangs.
It calls for bringing additional charges against gang members under the state's little-used organized crime statutes and creating a statewide task force to share information on gangs and come up with local solutions.
She also pledged that, if elected, she would lobby to maintain federal law enforcement grants to Wisconsin and make weekly visits to Milwaukee, where she said homicides saw a 40 percent jump between 2004 and 2005.
"Wisconsin residents are looking to the attorney general for leadership in resolving the gang problem, and Lautenschlager has been missing in action," she said.
Lautenschlager countered that Falk doesn't understand the state's organized crime statutes.
Typically the sentence for a gang member's original offense is stiffer than the 15 years the organized crime statutes lay out. As a practical matter, it's not worth the extra effort and expense to prosecute the organized crime charge, Lautenschlager said.
"If we thought it gave us a stronger bang for our buck, we'd certainly be using it," Lautenschlager said. "The fact that she believes this to be a logical solution speaks to ... lack of understanding of criminal law."
Lautenschlager lobbies for federal grants through the National Association of Attorneys General. According to a statement from the Department of Justice, agency narcotics agents work "constantly" with the department's Milwaukee office.
According to the state Office of Justice Assistance and Milwaukee police, the city saw 87 homicides in 2004 compared with 122 in 2005. This year has seen 67 murders, compared with 81 over the same period last year.
Falk and Lautenschlager will face each other in Democratic primary Sept. 12. Van Hollen and Bucher will square off in a GOP primary the same day. The winners meet in the November general election.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond in Madison contributed to this report.