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Chisholm Wins Third Term As Milwaukee DA, Says Voters Ignored Negative Ads

Rachel Morello
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm (right), joined onstage by family and County Executive Chris Abele, speaks to supporters Tuesday night.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm defeated Democratic challenger Verona Swanigan in Tuesday's primary, securing a third term in office. At his victory party, Chisholm credited county voters with seeing through the negative campaign that interests had launched against him.

“The template is that you’ll find some candidate, whether they’re qualified or not qualified, you just throw lots of money and do lots of negative advertising. And it’s worked in some cases. Well, it didn’t work this time,” Chisholm said. “What this tells you is that the citizens of Milwaukee County saw through that.”

Chisholm has faced criticism from people who claim he unjustly and perhaps for political reasons launched two John Doe probes targeting supporters or associates of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The first occurred while Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. That investigation resulted in charges against several Walker aides, most, for campaigning while on the public payroll.

The second John Doe probe reportedly investigated whether Walker's 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with issue advocacy groups. The majority of justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered an end to the investigation, ruling that there was no violation of campaign law. Some politicos guessed that a few of those same interests came back to try to oust Chisholm.

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On other subjects at his victory party Tuesday night, the DA thanked his supporters and outlined plans for moving forward.

“What it means for the community is we can continue looking to the future and how we improve the criminal justice system, and the relationship of that system with the community it serves,” Chisholm said.

“I think it’s hopeful for other prosecutors, quite frankly,” he added. “The one thing that a lot of prosecutors become pressured to do is go back to the ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric. I’m tough on crime, but we have to also be smart in our approaches to crime.”

Prior to his win, Chisholm won endorsements from several elected officials, including Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Because there is no Republican challenger in November, Tuesday’s primary handed another four-year term to the incumbent Milwaukee County DA.

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