Meet Waukesha's "Richard of 500 Days"
King Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn, his "Anne of A Thousand Days". King - I mean Governor - Jim Doyle now has his Judge Richard. Let's just call him "Richard of 500 days (or thereabouts)."
Yesterday, Doyle announced that he was appointing local criminal defense and traffic attorney Richard Congdon, the former chairman of the Waukesha County Democratic Party, to the Circuit Court bench in heavily Republican Waukesha County.
The vacancy occurred last December after Judge Mark Gempeler, a Democrat, manipulated his "retirement date" by a day in order to guarantee that his successor would not have to run for election until April of 2010. This maneuvering was made more aggravating by the fact that Gempeler hadn't really worked since August of 2007 despite collecting his full annual salary of $125,9992.
As a result of Gempeler's manipulation, Doyle was able to reward Congdon with an appointment to a judgeship that he would have had absolutely no chance of winning had he run for the open seat in 2009. Doyle obviously hopes that a year on the bench will give Congdon a better opportunity to hold the seat.
Good luck with that.
Most telling perhaps about this whole affair is the utter disregard that Doyle apparently holds for the people of Waukesha County. Several qualified attorneys (including an Assistant District Attorney and a Court Commissioner) applied for the judgeship but Doyle instead choose to reward one of his political supporters and contributors.
When Doyle has tried things like this in the past, things haven't worked out so well for either him or his appointees. For example, after Louis Butler got crushed in a statewide race for State Supreme Court, Doyle appointed him to the Court the next time an opening came up. Butler subsequently became the first sitting Justice in decades to lose an election.
Doyle also had another plan blow up on him a few years ago when he appointed his guy as Sheriff in heavily Republican Washington County. That candidate got beat by a 2 to 1 margin when he ran for election the following year.
If either Doyle or Gempeler would have had any respect for the voters in Waukesha County, they would have simply allowed the election to proceed in April of 2009. If Richard Congdon would have won the seat, so be it. However Doyle knew that Congdon would have had no chance - and hence the game.
If and when Congdon runs for election in the Spring of 2010, my guess is that he won't do too much better than he would have if he had run in 2009. In other words, smart money says that he will have at least one opponent and that Congdon will get creamed. As a matter of fact, I hear the line of qualified challengers is already forming. In the meantime, he gets to collect a judicial salary and enjoy the perks of office.
If I were Mr. Congdon, I wouldn't get too comfortable. Anne Boleyn made it about 1000 days - and we all know what happened to her.
Congdon's term expires in July of 2010. Just start thinking of him as Jim Doyle's "Richard of 500 Days".