Wes Donehue kicks off the speculation about who will serve as Haley's Chief of Staff:
As Gov. Mark Sanford leaves office, and longtime aide Scott English likely walks with him, who will be the next gubernatorial chief of staff? We keep hearing six names over and over who may be in line to assume the position when Gov.-elect Nikki Haley takes office in January.
While most of these names seem like pretty solid picks, and all of them come with some degree of merits, there are two who really stand out for key slots in the Haley administration. While we think Scott English, who's done a solid job of bringing stability and sanity to Sanford's administration in it's last year, deserves a chance to stay on, it sounds like he'll be heading up the Budget and Control Board, where we're sure he'll do good work.
This being said, we favor Eleanor Kitzman for this job. Her business leadership background could bring a perspective different from the ideologicial focus seem in the Sanford days, where picking fights over issues seemed to be more important than building the consensus necessary to implement agendas and managing state government. Signalling that competency will be a key value of the Haley administration would go a long way to winning over Republicans who are - including the Blogland - still cautious about her administration being an overly-politicized operation focused more on making a point than getting anything done.
We believe there's also a valuable role in the Haley administration for former Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer. We didn't always agree with him back then, but we sympathize with how Sanford left him out to dry during last year's Chapur affair. He's done a good job as Exective Director of the S.C. Republican Party, leading it through a very challenging year with outstanding results, and certainly knows his way around state politics and government. Haley would be crazy not to have this guy on her team.
Our assessments of the other names are as follows:
Tim Pearson's time in South Carolina has been short and stridently partisan. Naming him to the lead job would send a bad message to the many Republican still disaffected from the way they were handled during and after the primaries (often by Pearson himself), and his lack of experience in South Carolina would make it difficult to navigate the swirling and often-dangerous political waters.
Chad Walldorf would likewise be far too partisan to serve in that role. We've also questioned his sense of ethics in over misrepresentations made in the course pushing candidates which favored his long-time political ally, outgoing Governor Mark Sanford. His taking the job would send a bad signal to the many sitting legislators that he targeted unsuccessfully in past primaries - the wrong kind of signal a Governor who promised to work harder at gettting along with legislators wants to send.
While Trey Walker has become an experienced hand at state government and is someone Haley (or anyone) could - and should - put to good use, we're not sure Chief of Staff is the best-suited role for him to play.
State Representative Nathan Ballentine is a great guy who has done a great job as a legislator in balancing pusing issues and representing constituents in his district. Without a doubt, he has been Haley's most loyal friend in the State House, an important qualification for such a role, but we don't see him as the Chief of Staff type.
... so that's what we have to say. Feel free to tell us we're nuts or share your thoughts, either via posting or email.