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Doyle makes strategic move in railroad commissioner appointment

Gov. Jim Doyle may have killed two birds with one stone when he appointed Senate Democrat Roger Breske as the state's new railroad commissioner.

First, the governor found a man with railroad experience to replace Rod Kreunen, 74. Doyle might have made it easier to pass the indoor public smoking ban he's pushing for since Breske was one of the ban's biggest opponents.

Breske, 69, said he fully intended to run for re-election this fall before the railroad job came up.

Now, Democrats will have to find a candidate from the Shawano County area to run against Republican Tom Tiffany, whom Breske defeated in 2004.

Jason Childress of the Senate's Democratic Committee says his group will put up a strong candidate later this week.

Breske was first elected to the Senate in 1990.

He's a former Tavern League president. He also has four years' experience as a railroad fireman, and says his new job is a natural fit.

The governor's office also said Breske would be paid a lot more than Kreunen - $85,000 a year, compared to Kreunen's $70,000.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says it might almost double Breske's pension. It could end up being $40,000 a year.