Harsdorf in talks to serve as Wisconsin ag secretary
MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is in talks with state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf about serving as agriculture secretary, though it is unclear if she will be offered or accept the job.
Harsdorf, a River Falls Republican, and a spokesman for the GOP governor did not immediately return phone calls. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said he was aware she was being considered for the post but didn't say if she would get it.
"I believe they've talked to her, I know that much,” he said Tuesday as he headed down a Capitol staircase.
Ben Brancel stepped down as secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer protection last month. Walker appointed him to the job in 2011, just after Walker was first elected governor.
Harsdorf, 61, is a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. She served in the state Assembly from 1989 to 1997 and has been in the Senate since 2001.
Her brother, Jim, served as agriculture secretary from 2001 to 2003 under Republican Gov. Scott McCallum.
Her district covers parts of Burnett, Polk, St. Croix and Pierce counties in western Wisconsin.
Republicans control the state Senate 20-13. If she stepped down, it would narrow their majority to 19-13 in the short term. A special election would be held to determine who would serve out her term, which runs through January 2021.