McAuliffe makes first top-level appointments

Finance secretary will be a holdover

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Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, looking to follow through on a pledge to make his administration bipartisan, has selected a finance secretary who has served in state government under 11 governors and three longtime Democratic staffers for top-level positions.

Mr. McAuliffe announced Monday he intends to retain Ric Brown, the state’s current secretary of finance, for at least the first few months of his administration, when the state legislature will be marking up outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed two-year budget.

Mr. Brown originally was appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat now serving in the U.S. Senate, and kept on by Mr. McDonnell after the Republican governor’s 2009 election to help shepherd the state through the fiscal woes associated with the national economic downturn.

“I told the governor-elect I thought I could do it as well as the guy who currently has the job,” Mr. Brown said.

The appointment is supposed to be temporary. Mr. McAuliffe’s transition team said Mr. Brown will stay on through at least the passage of the upcoming budget. His appointment by Mr. McDonnell was seen as temporary as well — a way to maintain some continuity during a time of significant financial uncertainty — but Mr. Brown ended up serving in the Republican’s Cabinet for his entire four-year term.

The appointment is part of a foundation of an administration that Mr. McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fundraiser and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he is building “to find common ground with leaders from both parties to create jobs, navigate the uncertainty that we face over the coming years, and maximize the opportunities we have to diversify and strengthen Virginia’s economy.”

Mr. Brown has worked for the state for more than four decades and directed Virginia’s Department of Planning and Budget under Govs. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, and Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, before Mr. Kaine appointed him secretary of finance in August 2008. Mr. Warner is now Virginia’s senior U.S. senator.

Mr. McDonnell will unveil his blueprint for a new two-year budget next month. The legislature will then receive, amend and send the budget to Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, during next year’s General Assembly session.

Mr. McAuliffe also announced Monday that his chief of staff will be Paul Reagan, who is directing his current transition team. Mr. Reagan has held top-level positions in the offices of former Democratic Sen. Jim Webb and Mr. Warner.

Mr. McAuliffe also tapped Suzette Denslow, currently the chief of staff for Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, to be his deputy chief of staff. She also has served in top-level positions in the administrations of Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, as well as Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine.

Mr. McAuliffe named Levar M. Stoney to be his next secretary of the commonwealth. Mr. Stoney served as his deputy campaign manager this year and as political director for Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds during Mr. Deeds’ unsuccessful gubernatorial run against Mr. McDonnell in 2009. Mr. Deeds defeated Mr. McAuliffe and Brian J. Moran, a former state delegate and Democratic Party of Virginia chairman, in that year’s primary.

“These four leaders represent decades of serving Virginia with passion, professionalism and pragmatism, and I am pleased that they will serve in my administration,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

The announcements Monday mark the first significant staff appointments Mr. McAuliffe has made since his victory over Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli this month.

Cabinet officers must be confirmed by the General Assembly.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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