Call it a coincidence.

Gov. Wolf, who supports merit selection for Pennsylvania's statewide appellate courts, nominated Superior Court Judge Sallie Updyke Mundy, a Republican, to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court on Monday.

That will likely generate political goodwill for the Democratic governor as he closes in on a state budget with the Republican-controlled legislature.

But Wolf appears to have ignored a list of judges, screened by his own blue-ribbon panel and ranked by merit, in making the nomination.

Such panels are a gesture toward merit selection, a system that aims to pick judges based on their qualifications, thus eliminating the need for judicial elections and the politicking they entail.

Mundy, unlike other potential nominees for the high court, was not interviewed by the full advisory committee Wolf set up in March to vet judicial candidates. That committee drew up a list of a dozen names and ranked them on merit, said two sources familiar with that process who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker was ranked first in qualifications by the committee, those sources said.

Jeff Sheridan, a spokesman for Wolf, said the list the governor used to make his pick did not include rankings. That list was drawn up by Dusty Elias Kirk, the Pittsburgh lawyer Wolf named to chair the committee, and an aide to the governor's general counsel.

Mundy, Sheridan said, was "a priority" for the Republican-controlled Senate, which must vote to confirm her nomination.

Sheridan confirmed that Mundy, from Tioga County, was interviewed only by Kirk and not the full committee.

He added that the committee's role is to advise the governor, and that the list it drew up was not binding for his decision: "This was a process all along when we said we would work with the Senate to come up with a list everyone could agree on."

The Legal Intelligencer first reported on the list.

Tucker, an African American elected to the bench in 2005, declined to comment on Mundy's nomination. The state Supreme Court currently has no African American justices.

Kirk referred questions to Sheridan.

Mundy's nomination to the high court comes two weeks before the annual state budget deadline. Wolf and the Assembly missed that June 30 deadline last year in an acrimonious budget battle that dragged on well into 2016.

There is a different political atmosphere in Harrisburg these days. Wolf recently has agreed to bipartisan efforts to overhaul the sale of wine and beer in the state, and to address concerns about the state employee pension plan and about regulation of oil and gas wells.

Mundy, if approved by the Senate, will become the second Republican on the seven-member court.

She will replace another Republican, former Justice J. Michael Eakin, who resigned from the high court on March 15 after become ensnared in ethics charges stemming from a broader pornographic email scandal.

In naming Mundy, Wolf also departed from a long-established tradition in Pennsylvania politics of governors having interim court nominees promise not to run for full terms in the next election.

Mundy may run in 2017 for a full 10-year term on the high court. She was elected to Superior Court in 2009.

Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), said the Republican caucus is "pleased with how the nomination process has moved forward in filling these vacancies."

Mundy was one of 30 people Wolf nominated on Monday to various judicial posts, including three Superior Court seats, two Commonwealth Court seats, and 24 county-level judgeships.

"Under the law, we have 25 legislative days to act on the nominations but hope we can bring them to the full Senate for consideration well before that deadline," Kocher wrote in an email.

Wolf, along with five former governors - four Republicans, one Democrat - in February called on the Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment to let voters decide if appellate judges, who now run in statewide elections, should instead by chosen by merit selection.

That approach is supported by the advocacy group Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, which favors a 13-member, bipartisan judicial nomination commission with members chosen by the governor and legislature.

Maida Milone, the group's executive director, said Mundy's nomination is a different situation.

"I really don't see this as a test case at all for merit selection," Milone said.

215-854-5973 @ByChrisBrennan