Evers uses his nominating powers to overthrow 7 Republican district attorney positions since 2019

The number returned may soon increase to 9

Republicans no longer hold majority of DA post due to government appointments

MacIver News Service | November 7, 2022

The district attorney is arguably the most powerful county-level elected office in Wisconsin, and over the past three years Governor Evers has been able to select more than a quarter of the state’s district attorneys. .

The District Attorney (DA) sets criminal justice policy for his county. The state government can decide what is a crime, but it is the prosecutor who decides whether to do anything or not.

Most DAs were Republicans when Evers took office. The Democrats changed that without having to win any elections… except for the governor’s office.

The DA decides which charges to bring against a suspect, which charges to drop, and how aggressively to pursue a prosecution. The DA recommends bond levels and whether they should be cash or signature. It was also the DA who decided whether or not to enforce the Covid lockdowns. In counties like Dane and Milwaukee, these decisions directly led to rampant crime.

It was the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office that decided to charge Darrell Brooks with just 2n/a degree of reckless endangerment, when he drove his girlfriend in an SUV days before the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre. It was the Dane County district attorney who declined to press charges against a man arrested for shooting a couple driving on the Beltline last year. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne are both Democrats.

District attorneys are partisan political offices and are elected every four years. Despite their importance to criminal justice and public safety, these races do not attract much public attention. They take place during presidential elections and most district attorneys run unopposed.

For one reason or another, many of them resign before the end of their mandate. This gave Tony Evers the ability to appoint 21 of Wisconsin’s 71 district attorneys without any legislative oversight.

Since 2019, Evers has moved 8 DA offices from Republican to Democrat simply by filling vacancies. He returned a 9e position from Republican to Independent. He is likely to topple two more Republican offices over the next few weeks, costing Republicans a total of 11 DA offices since 2019.

Prior to Evers’ intervention, Democrats were steadily losing DA offices across the state. There were 29 AD Democrats when he took office as governor. After the 2020 election, 41 Wisconsin district attorneys were Republicans, 23 Democrats, and 7 independents. There are now 35 Republicans, 29 Democrats and 5 independents. Evers currently has two vacancies recently created by the retiring Langlade and Waupaca County Republican DAs. That could bring the number of Democratic DAs to 31, compared to 35 for Republicans.

Only once has a Republican challenger shown up to run against an Evers-appointed prosecutor.

DAs can be political chameleons and have been known to change party affiliations depending on the political winds. A famous example in Wisconsin occurred in Eau Claire County in 2008 when DA Rich White (Republican) became Rich White (Democrat). At the time, he claimed he never really agreed with Republican politics and had always been a Democrat at heart. This means that not everyone who claims to be Republicans on the ballot is actually a conservative. Evers nominated 1 DA Republican in 2019 in Burnett, who went on to win the 2020 election unopposed in the primaries and general.

Evers nominated a Democrat as DA of Waushara in 2020 before the election, but she was defeated by one Matthew Leusink, a Republican. It was the only time voters were able to vote against an Evers-appointed DA in favor of a Republican. It was also the only time a Republican showed up to run against an Evers-appointed prosecutor. Of the 9 people nominated by Evers on the ballot in 2020, the only contested race was at Waushara. The importance of undisputed breeds demonstrates the importance and permanence of Governor-appointed ADs, and why it is important to know who is the Governor who makes them.