Another Republican has entered the race for Wisconsin attorney general, setting the stage for a primary election that’s more than a year away.
University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor Ryan Owens announced his bid for the seat Monday. In a prepared statement, Owens said he would "side with parents," "stand up to government overreach" and champion "treat(ing) law enforcement officers fairly" as the state’s top law enforcement official.
"As I looked around the state, I just saw so many issues that I don’t think are being addressed by our leaders," Owens said in an interview. "I think Attorney General Kaul has, on a number of occasions, sacrificed our freedoms, our safety and our prosperity for his own political ambitions."
Josh Kaul, a Democrat, was elected in 2018 alongside Gov. Tony Evers and faces his first reelection in November 2022.
Owens said an example of the "leadership deficit" he's seen was Kaul's response to destructive and violent protests in Madison and Kenosha last summer. At the time, Kaul called the Capitol destruction "unacceptable," and violence and arson in Kenosha "despicable."
The GOP primary for attorney general will be in August 2022. Owens is the second Republican candidate to enter the race. Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney announced his candidacy earlier this month.
In his campaign announcement, Owens touted endorsements from former conservative state Supreme Court justices Michael Gableman, Daniel Kelly and David Prosser, as well as former Republican Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Owens earned a doctorate degree in political science at Washington University at St. Louis and taught at Harvard Law School. Upon returning to Wisconsin, Owens worked in former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s legal office.
According to his campaign website, Owens is "a proud NRA member and stands 100 percent for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and religious freedoms."