First debate: Attorney general candidates spar over voter ID, same-sex marriage

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Wisconsin's attorney general hopefuls met at Marquette University Law School on Sunday, October 12th for their first debate.

Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Susan Happ squared off -- and discussed the state's biggest issues starting with same-sex marriage.

"From the beginning, I said that our ban on same-sex marriage, that is a ban I would not defend," said Happ.

"Wisconsin needs the be able to count on their lawyer to step up to the plate and defend our laws when they are under attack," said Schimel.

On voter ID, Happ, the Jefferson County District Attorney, says the law creates realistic hurdles.

"This has been, in my view, a solution in search of a problem," said Happ.

Schmiel, the Waukesha County District Attorney, says until the U.S. Supreme Court says otherwise, voter ID is constitutional.

"Of course the attorney general is going to continue to defend that if I'm the attorney general," said Schimel.

A Marquette University Law School poll revealed most voters either haven't formed an opinion or haven't heard enough about either candidate in this race. Schimel and Happ want to change that.

"If people pay attention to this race, we can get the right attorney general elected," said Schimel.

"We know that somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of voters right now are undecided," said Happ.

Both candidates agree that more needs to be done to stop the heroin epidemic. Both want tougher penalties for fourth offense OWIs. But more often, they highlighted their differences.

"There's a very big difference between the two of us, we've got someone who's gonna focus on public safety and we've got someone who's gonna be an activist," said Schimel.

"I'm not going to be an activist, what I'm going to be is someone who has the independence and the courage to look at a law that blatantly violates and constitution and say I'm not going to enforce that law," said Happ.

Schimel and Happ are scheduled to meet in two more debates this month before voters head to the polls on Nov. 4.