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McDonnell names transition team to manage appointments

Group includes campaign contributor, may reinforce business-oriented stance

Last week, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell announced the leaders of his transition team, which will include Thomas Farrell, the current Dominion Power CEO and a former member of the University's Board of Visitors.

The leaders will advise McDonnell's appointment of administrators and cabinet members as he takes the reins in Richmond from current Governor Tim Kaine. In addition to Farrell, the team will include Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, current Attorney General Bill Mims, Northern Virginia Technology Council President Bobbie Kilberg and Gloucester Institute President Kay Coles James.

The governor-elect's appointments for the transition team often indicate what issues he will focus on after he's in office, said Isaac Wood, assistant communications director for the University's Center for Politics and a former Cavalier Daily opinion columnist.

"The biggest thing is that Tom Farrell is on the team," Wood said, "McDonnell clearly wants to send a clear message, assuring business leaders that Virginia will be friendly to corporations."

Wood added that the heavily business-oriented team also could prove advantageous for McDonnell because of the advisers' ties to big businesses and political leaders. In turn, they could make appointments to cement McDonnell's relationship with leaders in those critical segments of society.

Farrell, who was a friend of McDonnell's in high school, contributed more than $60,000 to the McDonnell campaign.

Wood said, as far as he knew, past governors have not hired campaign contributors to be part of their teams.

"It's a big honor to be chosen," Wood said. "I'm sure it didn't hurt that he contributed."

He added that the biggest reason McDonnell had for hiring the selected team leaders was that they shared his ideas about what Virginia should look like in the future.

McDonnell spokesperson Tucker Martin stated in an e-mail that the transition period was busy, both for the members of the team and for the campaign staff.

"We are focused on ensuring that the system works effectively as we begin the process of preparing for the Governor-elect to take office in January," he said.

Kilberg said she looked forward to helping in the preparations, adding that she believes McDonnell has already shown a commitment to advancing technology in Virginia. In this regard, she pointed to the talk that McDonnell gave to University professors during his campaign to promote a partnership with Amazon.com, which would digitize many books that students currently have to buy in print.

"McDonnell knows how important the Virginia tech industry is," Kilberg said, "and we look forward to working with him, his staff and the incoming administration."

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, another appointed team leader, stated in an e-mail that he was unsure what his role on the team would be but was looking forward to helping the governor.

"We want to make certain that we assemble the best team we can to serve the people of Virginia," he said. "Putting together a new administration will not be an easy task, but it is important because it will lay the foundation for everything else we seek to do over the next four years"

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