New Haven Corporation Counsel Thayer Baldwin came a step closer to realizing a lifelong dream when Gov. John Rowland nominated him to become a Superior Court judge last Friday.

The nomination, however, leaves the city searching for a new chief attorney, and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has announced that Deputy Corporation Counsel Tom Ude will takeover as acting corporation counsel in March assuming the Legislature confirms Baldwin.

Ude is also a likely candidate to fill the position permanently, and Ude said he and the mayor have discussed the possibility.

“I’m working closely with [Baldwin] and the mayor to make a smooth transition, and then we’ll see how things will work out from there,” he said.

DeStefano also said he would wait to find a permanent replacement for Baldwin.

“We’re going to go with this for now and see what happens,” DeStefano said.

Baldwin has served as corporation counsel since 1998 and has long been an important figure in the state Democratic Party. For six years in the 1970s, Baldwin was a law partner of Joseph Lieberman, now a Connecticut senator and failed vice-presidential candidate.

“It’s been a lifelong ambition, and I’m grateful to the Governor for submitting my name to the Legislature,” Baldwin said.

The governor expects the Legislature to easily confirm the nomination of Baldwin along with the 12 other nominations Rowland made.

Aspiring judges submit applications to the Judicial Selection Commission, which reviews the applicants and sends a list of qualified candidates to the governor.

Although Rowland is a Republican, his spokesman Dean Pagani emphasized that Rowland ignores politics in his appointments and has appointed more Democratic and unaffiliated judges than Republican judges.

“The governor feels that Ted Baldwin has had a distinguished career as a lawyer in Connecticut especially in New Haven, and he has all the credentials to be a judge in the Superior Court,” Pagani said. “The governor has made a point of appointing judges to the bench based on qualifications rather than political affiliations.”

Ude said Baldwin’s approach as corporation counsel has revealed the qualities that will make him a successful jurist.

“We’ll miss him in this office very much,” Ude said. “He’s been a very stabilizing and strong influence on all of us. He’s a very easy boss to work for in many ways. I think those same qualities are going to make him a very good judge.”

DeStefano said he was sorry to lose Baldwin but also expressed confidence in his future as a judge.

“This is an accomplishment of a career ambition for him,” DeStefano said. “His temperament and intellect are well suited for the state. I’m sorry to lose him.”

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