Prominent figures in both major political parties said Friday they were pleased by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's appointment of Janine Geske to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
But a well-known conservative said Thompson was upsetting a conservative majority that has dominated the court for several years.
"I'm disappointed, obviously," said Milton businessman Steven King, a former state Republican chairman who ran for the U.S. Senate.
King and other conservatives favored Judge Dominic Amato of Milwaukee for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Louis Ceci.
King said Thompson forsook his conservative supporters by not appointing someone like Ceci, who often votes with the court's conservative majority.
Thompson's advisers, hoping to strengthen his re-election chances in 1994, made a political decision in picking Geske, a Circuit Court judge in Milwaukee since 1981. The choice may backfire on Thompson, King said.
"I would have hoped, and I believe most conservatives agree with me, that the governor would have made an "apples for apples' appointment," King said.
"Dominic Amato would have made, in my opinion, an outstanding Supreme Court justice," he said. "I don't know Janine Geske, but to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, Janine Geske is no Lou Ceci."
Many Democrats and other Republicans hailed Geske's appointment.
"It shows the governor can rise above partisanship," said Rep. Shirley Krug, D-Milwaukee, a frequent Thompson critic. "It sort of makes him look like a statesman."
"I think she's an excellent choice," said Senate Majority Leader Michael G. Ellis, R-Neenah. "She's got tremendous credentials. She's well respected by her peers. Her judicial experience is second to none."
Feminist leaders also hailed the appointment of the second woman to the state's highest court.
"She'll be an outstanding member of the State Supreme Court," said Margaret McMurray, state president of the National Organization for Women.