Wisconsin’s U.S. senators are signaling they will start over the vetting process for a vacancy on the federal bench in Green Bay after Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, opposed the president’s original pick.

Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning told WisPolitics.com the Oshkosh Republican continues to oppose William Pocan over the bail the Milwaukee County judge set in a 2014 case. Davario Washington, of Milwaukee, was charged with stealing a car and running over the owner. Following a request from prosecutors, Pocan raised his bail to $5,000 from $2,500.

Johnson said that’s still too low.

Henning said Johnson “cannot support someone for a lifetime appointment that has granted low bail for someone charged with violent felonies.”

Pocan, the brother of U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, was one of four candidates the Federal Nominating Commission identified for the vacancy on the Green Bay bench. Johnson and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, forwarded all four names to the White House, which tapped Pocan for the nomination in December 2021.

Johnson in February said he wouldn’t support the pick, citing the bail issue and concerns he heard from the Green Bay legal community that Pocan was from Milwaukee rather than the area.

“The President had three individuals he could have nominated before the end of 2022, but he did not do so,” Henning added. “Since the White House did not make another nomination, it will be necessary to repeat the vetting process.”

Baldwin continued to support Pocan’s nomination after Johnson raised the objections. Yesterday, Baldwin spokesperson Alanna Conley told WisPolitics.com the senator “plans to re-form the bipartisan nominating commission and is looking to fill this vacancy as expeditiously as possible.”
National Dems have made a priority of filling judicial vacancies.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

William Pocan would’ve been the first openly gay federal judge in the 7th Circuit if confirmed.

Mark Pocan has accused Johnson of homophobia for stalling his brother’s nomination, a charge the senator denied. Pocan declined comment yesterday.

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