The Wisconsin State Senate on Tuesday confirmed Craig Thompson as transportation secretary and Dawn Crim to lead the state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services years after Gov. Tony Evers nominated them to lead the agencies.
The senate voted to confirm Crim and Thompson along with Joaquin Altoro at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Agency, Missy Huges at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Daniel Carlton Jr. as administrator of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission and Randy Romanski as the state agriculture secretary. The senate did not debate any nominations.
The senate confirmed the agency heads as about 100 other people await confirmation to their positions. Evers nominated Thompson and Crim shortly after he took office in 2019. But the GOP-controlled senate has delayed confirmation votes on many of Evers’ picks, leaving them vulnerable to removal.
“I know they’ve been real busy,” Evers said of the Senate when asked at a news conference about the pending confirmation votes. “But we have some extraordinary leaders waiting to be approved, lots of people already serving on some committees and advising us around various issues that are really important. It’s about time.”
In 2019, the state senate rejected Evers’ nomination of Brad Pfaff as the state’s agriculture secretary, a move Evers called “amoral and stupid.” Pfaff went on to win election to a state senate seat in 2020.
Thompson’s confirmation to lead the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Tuesday comes after a committee advanced his appointment to the full senate more than two years ago, in August 2019.
Some Republicans were opposed to Thompson’s nomination because of his previous work leading the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association, which advocates for the interests of road builders and other groups. Other lawmakers have praised Thompson. Senate transportation committee chair Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, called Thompson a “class act” during his 2019 committee hearing.
The senate approved Thompson’s confirmation on a 27-4 vote, with Republicans Julian Bradley, Chris Kapenga, Steve Nass and Duey Stroebel voting against.
Likewise, Crim has waited years for Senate confirmation after Evers nominated her to lead DSPS in early 2019.
Republican lawmakers last spring questioned Crim’s work to address a 2019 backlog of construction plan reviews at the agency during a committee hearing on her confirmation. Some republicans also expressed concern about Crim’s nomination after learning she was charged in 2005 with jabbing her 5-year-old son’s hand with a pen. Those charges were ultimately dismissed.
The senate approved Crim’s nomination on a 29-2 vote, with Bradley and Nass opposed. All other agency heads up for a vote Tuesday were confirmed unanimously.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report