Receiving a gubernatorial appointment to fill a judicial vacancy usually gives the appointee a leg up when it's time to run to keep the seat. Even a few months on the bench can help with name recognition at the polls.
But there was some speculation over whether anyone wanting either of the two open seats on the Dane County Circuit Court would seek an appointment from Gov. Scott Walker. This, after all, is Dane County, the bluest of blue counties.
But Walker did make two appointments to the bench last week: Roger Allen, an attorney for the city of Madison, to Circuit Court Branch 11 and Frank Remington, a former assistant attorney general who serves as the municipal judge for Shorewood Hills, to Circuit Court Branch 8. Both reject the suggestion that Walker's appointment could prove a liability.
"The appointment is an opportunity to serve the people of Dane County as an independent, thoughtful and impartial judge, and the diverse group of my more than 250 endorsers - including JoAnne Kloppenburg, Peg Lautenschlager, Mayor Soglin, Kelli Thompson - are a tremendous vote of confidence about my ability to be that kind of judge," Remington wrote in an email.
Allen sounded a similar note: "Any fears [people] have regarding the context of being appointed by this governor will be allayed by people who really know me."
"I didn't seek this office because of who the governor was," Allen adds. "I sought it because it was the right time professionally and personally for me to make this move."
So far no one has registered to challenge Remington. Ellen Berz, a public defender, and Frank Sullivan, an assistant attorney general with the state Department of Justice, have registered with the Government Accountability Board to run against Allen.
The primary election is Feb. 21 and the general election April 3, the same date as Wisconsin's presidential primaries.