Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday he has appointed outgoing Attorney General Brad Schimel as a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge.
Schimel, a Republican, will replace Judge Patrick Haughney on the court, whose resignation was effective Nov. 6. The appointment comes a day after Schimel officially conceded the attorney general race to Democrat Josh Kaul, who won the election by about 17,000 votes.
The margin was less than the 1 percent threshold required to request a recount, but Schimel’s campaign would have had to pay for it.
Statewide recounts in the past have cost upward of $2 million, according to the Elections Commission.
Walker in a statement announcing the appointment praised Schimel, who was elected as attorney general in 2014 and as Waukesha County District Attorney in 2006.
“Brad Schimel has diligently served the State of Wisconsin as attorney general and the citizens of Waukesha County as district attorney,” Walker said. “Schimel has shown a commitment to the rule of law and the State of Wisconsin.”
Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers declined to address the appointment at a stop in Milwaukee Tuesday.
“My focus frankly has been on my transition to become governor of the state of Wisconsin, so I really haven’t given a thought to how AG Schimel is transitioning himself,” Evers told reporters.
Despite Schimel being appointed to the bench, he’ll still have to face an election in April of next year if he wants to keep the position.
Schimel campaign adviser Brian Fraley touted Schimel’s decision as reflecting the attorney general’s commitment to the community.
“While several large national and state law firms would undoubtedly love to have a former attorney general’s name on their letterhead, much less someone of the caliber of Brad Schimel on their team, Brad Schimel chose a less financially lucrative option for this next phase of his career,” Fraley wrote in an email.
Former Republican attorney general J.B. Van Hollen, for example, is currently a senior adviser at Michael Best strategies.
Attorney general-elect Kaul, a former federal prosecutor, will be the first Democratic attorney general since 2007, when his late mother Peg Lautenschlager held the post.
Democratic Party chairwoman Martha Laning slammed Schimel’s appointment as highly partisan when Wisconsin voters want the judicial system to be independent.
“Even though Wisconsin voters rejected divisive and partisan politicians like Brad Schimel just two weeks ago, Republicans have chosen to ignore the will of voters and put politics before people,” Laning said in a statement.