Earlier this week, news broke that Republican Attorney General candidate Brad Schimel admitted to having been arrested and ultimately cited for drunk driving in 1990. In a statement, Schimel categorized his arrest and citation for drunk driving as “[A] terrible error of judgment as a young person,” and he said he deeply regretted the mistake he made. Schimel went on to note his commitment to “fighting crime and making Wisconsin a safer state,” while citing his efforts to combat drunk driving.
While I don’t believe Schimel’s drunk driving citation in 1990 has much bearing on his fitness to serve as Attorney General, I think the bigger issues are his inability (or unwillingness) to be more forthcoming about the situation prior to it being discovered by others as well as the influence that citation had in terms of his position on the issue of criminalizing first offenses for drunk driving. Schimel is on record as being skeptical of criminalizing first-offense drunken driving incidents. Under existing law in Wisconsin, first offenses for drunk driving are treated as traffic citations rather than crimes, making Wisconsin the only state in the country to handle first offenses for drunk driving in such a manner.
In the words of one Democratic strategist, “Schimel’s campaign is in serious trouble. He screwed up on admitting to his own OWI citation, and even Republicans seem to be running for the hills.”
The belief that Brad Schimel’s campaign could be in trouble is shared by none other than Jeff Wagner, part of the right-wing squawk talk radio brigade that typically carries so much water for Republicans in Wisconsin. Here’s what Wagner had to say about the revelations of Brad Schimel’s drunk driving arrest:
The significance of Schimel’s statement is, of course, magnified because Schimel will be the Republican nominee for Wisconsin Attorney General this Fall. In making his comments, Schimel opined that his campaign handlers “probably would not want him expressing his views on the issue”.
Maybe Schimel should have listened to his advisors.
I’ve known Brad for many years. I consider him to be an outstanding prosecutor and a very good person. I think he’d make an outstanding Attorney General.
I also think he’s dead wrong on this issue.
Moreover, I think his position is so out-of touch that he just may have cost himself the election.
I don’t know if Brad Schimel’s drunk driving arrest has cost him the Attorney General election, but I do know he needs to answer some questions about why he’s just now revealing the arrest and if that arrest has influenced his reluctance to criminal drunk driving first offenses.