Johnson wanted to break with precedent and change the composition of the Federal Nominating Commission in the state, which had been used to fill every judicial and U.S. attorney vacancy since 1979.
“The Commission, whose structure is determined by a charter, has served our state well, through the tenure of Democratic and Republican senators and under both Republican and Democratic presidents,” Kohl said at the time. “So it’s been a great disappointment that Sen. Johnson has sought significant changes to the Commission.”
Despite the dispute with Kohl, Johnson told Roll Call he looks forward to working with Baldwin on projects important to Wisconsin, especially infrastructure, and highlighted a bridge project he worked on that also had the support of Kohl and Minnesota Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.
Awkward tension between same-state, opposing party pairs, however, is neither new nor unique to Wisconsin.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for example, has been paired with a GOP junior senator for more than a decade. He brokers a sort of détente with his fellow Nevada senator, and treaded lightly around the sex scandal that ultimately led to Republican John Ensign’s resignation in 2011.
In his first press conference after this week’s election, he addressed his relationship with GOP victor Dean Heller, who had been appointed to replace Ensign and defeated Reid-backed Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.
“Dean Heller and I have been friends for 25 years,” Reid said, though the leader has been known to use the term “friend” liberally when talking to reporters. “I have affection for Dean Heller. I like him a lot. We’ll be able to work together. I worked with John Ensign, who I beat by 428 votes … and I think that you, everyone, has to acknowledge what good friends we are and how well we work together. So I have no problem with that.”
With Tuesday’s election, re-elected Democrats like Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sherrod Brown of Ohio ensure that mixed-party intrastate representation is more common than it once was.
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