In victory speech, Kaul promises to expand health care coverage, take on polluters

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE 11/7:

Brad Schimel and Josh Kaul

Democrat Josh Kaul has declared victory over incumbent Brad Schimel in the race for Wisconsin Attorney General.

The Associated Press hasn't officially called the race. Numbers show Kaul up 50 percent to 49 percent, up by more than 22,000 votes.

"I'm Josh Kaul and I'm honored to be your next attorney general," Kaul said during a news conference Wednesday in Madison.

Kaul, a former federal prosecutor and attorney, made promises when it comes to crime, health care and environmental issues.

"I will ensure that DNA matches from the testing from kits in our rape kit backlog are fully investigated," Kaul.

He also promised to expand coverage for thousands under the state's Badgercare program.

"I will fight to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin, which would allow us to cover about 80,000 additional Wisconsinites under Badgercare. Which means that more people would have the coverage they need to pay for treatment. And which would save the state about $190 million a year that we can put to other productive uses like expanding access to treatment, reducing health insurance costs, and finally addressing our prosecutor shortage here in Wisconsin."

Kaul said he work with Democratic Governor-elect to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

The AG-elect spoke about school safety and included gun reforms as part of that effort.

"As your attorney general, I will advocate for some common sense gun safety measures, including universal background checks, a ban on bump stocks, and a red flag law," Kaul said.

Red flag laws allow a judge to issue an order to temporarily seize guns from people who are considered a danger to themselves or others.

Kaul also discussed an issue important to many people in Northeast Wisconsin--farm run off that impacts drinking water.

"In 2018 in Wisconsin, safe drinking water for our families should be non-negotiable. And when polluters break the law and make a mess, they should expect to be held accountable," Kaul says.

Kaul follows in his mother's footsteps. He is the son of Peg Lautenschlager, the late Wisconsin attorney who served as AG from 2003-2007.

Schimel released a statement Wednesday saying he would not concede until all votes were counted.

“I just got off the phone with Josh Kaul. While the results are not final, it appears he has won this race. I told him I am waiting until the municipal and county canvasses are complete, all military ballots are accounted for and that every vote is counted," Schimel said. "We also want to know more about what happened with the absentee ballots in Milwaukee County. However, if the margin does not substantially change, I have vowed that my team will assist him in making the transition as smooth as possible. I want to thank nearly 1.3 Million Wisconsinites for their votes, their prayers and their support. We will all know more in about a week.”

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PREVIOUS UPDATE

More than four hours after the watch party started in the University Room of Madison’s Concourse Hotel, it came to an end -- and with an unexpected result.

After a tight race and hours of supporters glued to the TVs and refreshing election results on their smartphones, Democratic attorney general candidate Josh Kaul took the podium, thanking his supporters for sticking it out but telling them the party was over.

This race simply would not be able to be called until the morning.

“Thank you all for being here. Thank you for staying as this night has gotten long. We don’t yet know what the results are going to be, and it looks like we won’t know until certainly the early hours and maybe even after that," Kaul said.

Just before 3:30 a.m., only 3 precincts were left to be counted, and Kaul led incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel by 22,900 votes. That's less than one percent of the 2.5 million votes cast, and within the margin for Schimel to seek a recall.

Schimel played it laid back Tuesday night, joking with supporters at his election night party and playing with his band wearing a Hawaiian shirt and dark sunglasses.

As it became evident the race may not be called until Wednesday morning, Schimel wound down the party. He told his audience it was a hard-fought, bare-bones campaign and he had no regrets.

"I'm proud to have been your partner, working side by side for 29 years as a prosecutor with this law enforcement team. There's no place better to live than Wisconsin because of the law enforcement we have here," Schimel told his audience.