The governor picks a well known conservative and a close friend to fill the vacant seat on the Kansas Supreme Court, Caleb Stegall.
"He's taken another step towards being able to entrench his changes," said Friends University political analyst Dr. Russell Arben Fox about why the governor made his choice.
The governor had three choices, Caleb Stegall with less than a year's experience as a judge, and Karen Arnold-Burger and Merlin Wheeler, each with more than 20 years experience on the bench. Moderate Republicans and Democrats are saying Stegall is the wrong choice.
"I'm pleased to introduce the newest Kansas Supreme Court Justice, Caleb Stegall," Gov. Sam Brownback announced to applause in Topeka Friday morning.
Wichita Democrat and State Representative Jim Ward said he knew this was coming as soon as the nominating commission named Caleb Stegall a finalist for the position. Ward says the choice wasn't about who was the best qualified.
"Well, I don't think it hurt that he was the governor's lawyer for a couple of years," Ward said.
Dr. Fox agreed.
"Very clearly putting someone on the court not because of their many years of experience, not because of their huge qualifications, but because they're a close friend to the governor and they're a close ally to a lot of the causes that the governor supports," he said.
Stegall is known for a conservative stance that aligns with Governor Brownback and the changes he's made in office.
"The governor has a history of questionable appointees. And here was a chance, when he had really two incredibly talented (people), to reach out to folks who have not been close to the governor," said Rep. Ward. "He chose to continue to go down the path of picking the most ideological choice he can."
In the announcement, the governor said Stegall is the right choice for Kansas.
"Caleb Stegall has an unflinching commitment to doing the right thing, even under the most difficult of circumstances," Gov. Brownback said in a prepared statement. "And, if I could say on a personal note, I believe Caleb Stegall to be one of the most qualified people ever to go on the Kansas Supreme Court."
No matter his political stance, Dr. Fox says Stegall's appointment won't mean a huge change in State Supreme Court rulings.
"The truth is, is that Caleb, as conservative as he is, actually has shown a fair amount of independence in the way he looks at political issues and so forth," said Dr. Fox.
"I look forward to going to work," said Stegall at the announcement. "Devoted, really devoted to our democracy's promise of a fair, impartial and independent judiciary."
The governor didn't take any questions at the announcement. When asked for statements through both the governor's press secretary and his campaign media co-ordinator, he referred Eyewitness News back to the morning announcement.
Stegall replaces outgoing Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz. She's headed to the Federal Court of Appeals.