Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan appointed the first two members of his administration Wednesday, naming a former Ehrlich administration aide and a state senator as top staffers.
Hogan picked Craig A. Williams to be his chief of staff and state Sen. Joseph Getty of Carroll County as his policy and legislative director. The three men worked together in the administration of former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Hogan also named Robert R. Neall, a former legislator and Anne Arundel County executive, as a special adviser on fiscal policy, an informal and unpaid job. Neall, who has been a member of both major political parties, said he has changed his party affiliation back to Republican. He is widely regarded as one of the sharpest fiscal minds in Maryland.
Since Hogan's Nov. 4 upset election, his transition team has focused primarily on the state's budget, which faces a $300 million budget hole for this year. Hogan said Wednesday, "It's much worse than we ever anticipated."
But the team has interviewed dozens of potential Cabinet members and staffers as the governor-elect prepares to take office in January as only the second Republican governor since the 1960s.
Hogan has pledged both to help build the state's Republican Party and to have a bipartisan administration. All three men named Tuesday are Republicans, and Hogan said he does not plan to try to meet any bipartisan "quotas."
"We don't care, whatsoever, about whether someone is a Republican or a Democrat," Hogan told reporters. "That doesn't matter to me at all. We're going to find the most talented people we can."
Hogan has until his Jan. 21 inauguration to build the core of his administration. "I imagine we'll probably have more Republicans in our administration than are in the current administration, but I expect you'll see some Democrats as well," he said.
None of the Wednesday appointments requires confirmation from the Democratic-controlled legislature, which will have veto power over some of Hogan's appointments.
Williams served as one of three deputy chiefs of staff under Ehrlich and works in a Washington-based government relations job with the biotech giant Amgen. Hogan credited Williams with "a unique mix of private and public service."
Len Foxwell, chief of staff to Comptroller Peter Franchot and a Democrat, called Williams a "home run" for the governor-elect.
"Craig Williams is one of the most effective public servants and one of the most fundamentally decent people I've met in this town," Foxwell said.
Under Ehrlich, Williams worked closely with higher-education institutions, including Salisbury University, where Foxwell worked as an Annapolis lobbyist during the Ehrlich years.
As chief of staff, Williams will serve as a key gatekeeper between Hogan and the public. Williams told reporters he plans to have an "open-door" policy.
"We're temporary stewards to do the right thing, and everybody has a seat at the table," Williams said.
Getty served three years as Ehrlich's policy and legislative director, the same job Hogan tapped him for.
"He is very well known and well respected in the General Assembly and throughout the state of Maryland," Hogan said.
Getty's new job as Hogan's chief lobbyist requires him to resign the Senate seat to which he was re-elected last month. The Carroll County Republican Central Committee is charged with finding Getty's replacement.
Neall said he declined Hogan's offer to take a full-time job with the administration to remain CEO of Priority Partners, a Johns Hopkins enterprise that provides health care to the poor.