Gov. Scott Walker today appointed GOP state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf the first female DATCP secretary, calling the longtime lawmaker “an excellent fit to lead the agency.”

Harsdorf, who won her Senate seat in 2000 and served in the Assembly from 1989-1999, fills the vacancy left when Ben Brancel retired in August. She will start Monday in a job once held by her brother, Jim.

“I’m excited to work with and support our farmers, businesses, and consumers to promote a fair marketplace and economic growth in Wisconsin’s vibrant agriculture industry,” Harsdorf said in a statement released through the guv’s office.

Harsdorf, 61, served on the Joint Finance Committee this session and chaired the Universities and Technical Colleges Committee. She also has a degree in animal science from the University of Minnesota.

Harsdorf is expected to resign her Senate seat to take the job, and it’s believed the guv would try to schedule a special election to fill the vacancy for the same day as ones already planned for two open Assembly seats. Nomination papers in those races are due Nov. 21 with a primary Dec. 19 and the general election Jan. 16.

GOP state Reps. Shannon Zimmerman, of River Falls, and Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, are expected to look at a run for the seat.

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