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Kent likely to get chief of staff nod Thursday

Rosalind Helderman

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to announce the first round of appointments to his administration. With former campaign manager and transition director Phil Cox on his way to McDonnell's new political action committee--the first release under Cox's name arrived from the "Opportunity Virginia" PAC this morning--it's a pretty good bet a permanent chief of staff for McDonnell will be among the first appointments.

With Cox out, all speculation in Richmond has now turned to Martin Kent, who worked at the attorney general's office for McDonnell and has been most recently serving as chief deputy to Attorney General Bill Mims.

Another good possibility to be joining McDonnell at the microphones, if not Thursday then one day very soon, is a Marla Decker as secretary for public safety. Decker served as deputy attorney general for public safety under McDonnell. It's worth noting that when Jim Gilmore became governor, the last time a sitting attorney general ascended to governor's mansion, he also made his public safety deputy the state's secretary in that area.

There could be other announcements Thursday too. The transition has been spending a lot of time looking for secretaries for major areas like commerce, education, transportation.

Several lawmakers have quietly been asked if they would approve of Gov. Tim Kaine's Secretary of Finance Ric Brown staying on for a while.

Here's two announcements that probably are not happening Thursday. Democratic Sen. Edd Houck, widely rumored to be under possible consideration for an administration job that could help swing the balance of power in the Senate, said today that he has had no contact with McDonnell or his staff and will not be a part of tomorrow's event.

Likewise, former state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis said Tuesday while she is certainly interested in being considered to become Secretary of Technology, she has not been interviewed for the job and believes the administration is still in the early stages of its decision-making process for the post. "Bob knows I'm willing to serve in that position, if he deems me the person to do the job. I think I have a lot to offer, both with my experience in the legislature and in the private sector," she said.

Davis is co-chairing the transition's technology team, along with John Backus of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Lawmakers have widely been speculating that Davis would fulfill the Northern Virginia business community's desire to see someone from the region hold the job. But Del. Sam Nixon, of Chesterfield, is also said to be under consideration, along with other candidates.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 2, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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