Many asking governor-elect for job

Monday, November 29, 2004

LABEL: News Analysis

By Kelly Wiese ~ The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY -- After 12 years of Democratic control, the governor's office will again be in Republican hands come January.

And that change in power has inspired hundreds to seek a job in the new administration of Matt Blunt.

Political experts say there's always a rush of applicants when the controlling party changes, from people simply excited about the new style of leadership and priorities to party faithful who think they've paid their dues and are ready to reap the rewards.

In 2000, when current Gov. Bob Holden won the office that fellow Democrat Mel Carnahan had held for eight years, there were about 1,200 job applications. With Blunt coming in, his transition office already has received nearly 1,000 applications -- and there are still six weeks to go before he is sworn into office.

Among those 961 applicants so far is Linda Smith of Holts Summit, who said she applied for a government job because she likes the ideas and values Blunt brings to the office.

"I think Matt is just going to do tremendous things for the state. His views and plans for education and agriculture are two of the main things that caught my attention," she said.

Smith said she has worked in government before but does not now and would not have sought another government job if someone else had been elected.

When Holden took over, a number of agency leaders that had served under Carnahan kept their jobs, at least for a while. But while Blunt said anyone wishing to stay is welcome to apply, he also has said voters gave him a "mandate for change" in state government, and he is likely to put his own people in as agency directors and other leadership roles.

Political scientists say the large volume of applicants is to be expected with any change in party control of the executive branch.

"The people line up and [there's] the sort of expectations that the Republicans who have worked hard for the party should be the people who are put in office. It builds up," said Richard Fulton, a political science professor at Northwest Missouri State University.

He also said there may be more people lining up than usual because of the Blunt family's political power in Missouri. Blunt's father, Roy Blunt, is the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House.

Holden said he has talked with his staff and Blunt about the transition.

"I've encouraged him to look for the best people possible to serve in these roles in state government," Holden said. "He's going to be looking for probably a lot of changes in personnel, heads of departments. My transition was a little different because I came from two previous Democratic administrations."

'Exciting' mission

Republican consultant John Hancock said many people are seeking to get involved in the new administration after a dozen years on the outside.

"I think there are, without question, many people in the private sector who have been troubled at the direction state government had taken over the last few years and who view this new administration as a real opportunity to put the state on solid footing," he said. "The opportunity to be part of that mission is exciting for a lot of people."

Also, Fulton said, the idea may be more tempting than usual for job seekers because not only is the governor's office in Republican hands, but both branches of the legislature are as well.

"It looks like you can get a lot more done in this administration, so more people may be more willing to take it on," he said.

Blunt announced his first appointments last week: a revenue director, Public Service Commission chairman and legislative director for his office. But he has many more applications to sift through and jobs to fill in the coming weeks. And there certainly won't be a dearth of people trying to get his attention.

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