Gov.-elect Pat McCrory rolled out his team of advisers and administrators that will help him transition to North Carolina's chief executive, including Raleigh political veterans, Charlotte allies and business leaders.
McCrory said a steering committee had been place for weeks just in case to help with him prepare for the move to serving as governor.
“The campaign is over and now it's time to govern,” the former Charlotte mayor told reporters Thursday on the 9th floor of a state government office building that will serve as his transition headquarters.
The top transition leaders are senior chairman of transition operations John Lassiter, a Charlotte businessman, former city council member and close McCrory ally, and transition director Thomas Stith, who works at a private enterprise center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Stith is a former Durham city council member.
Other operations co-chairmen are former Rep. Ed McMahan, a Charlotte architect; Raleigh real estate executive Mike Smith and retail company executive Art Pope. McCrory defended the involvement of Pope, who's been a lightning rod for Democrats and liberal groups because his family's companies have given large amounts of money to conservative political groups and his family's foundation often gives to conservative causes.
Pope, a former state House member from Raleigh, is “extremely knowledgeable about the operation of state government. And by the way, he has a great relationship with Gov. (Beverly) Perdue also,” McCrory said as Pope and more than a dozen other transition members stood behind him at the news conference. Pope didn't immediately return a phone call at his office Thursday.
Senior advisers include former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner, ex-House Speaker Joe Mavretic and Jack Hawke, a longtime GOP consultant who worked on McCrory's campaign.
“What I've attempted to do on my steering committee is get a diverse group of people with ideas and individuals with varying policy philosophies,” McCrory added. “I'm glad to have him and other members of my team.”
McCrory met earlier Thursday at the old state Capitol building with Perdue, whom he called “incredibly gracious and cooperative.” Perdue defeated McCrory four years ago. He said the two talked about issues surfacing before McCrory takes the reins of state government.
Those challenges include required federal spending cuts affecting North Carolina's military installations in early January should Congress and President Barack Obama fail to reach a budget deal. McCrory said he and Perdue may visit North Carolina installations together by December as a united front “to make sure we protect those jobs right here in North Carolina.”
The transition team also would review policy issues, state government operations and seek additional talent from around the state and country that may join his administration. He said a web site (www.workforpat.com ) has been set up to take information from potential candidates. The team likely will help him with choosing Cabinet secretaries in state departments.
“I'm looking for problem solvers because we've got some extremely complex problems that we're going to have to solve,” he said.
The Legislature approved a law last summer that more than doubled the number of state government positions exempt from normal government personnel rules. Critics have balked, saying it would allow the next governor to bring in favored allies into state jobs. McCrory has said he didn't promise jobs to people and said transition team member were signing ethics pledges.
McCrory said he didn't know exactly when he'd get sworn in to office in January. Inauguration festivities that are already getting organized and tradition would point to a Jan. 12 public swearing-in, but it could be earlier.
The Legislature set aside $750,000 in state funds for transition and inaugural expenses, or $330,000 more than provided for Perdue. McCrory said his goal is not to spend the additional funds but pointed out he's new to state government. Perdue and her predecessor Mike Easley both were statewide elected officials when they were elevated to governor.
“I'm having to start from scratch,” he said.