Kaine Adds 3, Including GOP Holdover, to Cabinet
By Chris L. Jenkins
RICHMOND, Dec. 29 -- Virginia Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine named two Democratic allies to his Cabinet on Thursday along with a Republican who has been serving in his predecessor's administration.
Del. Viola O. Baskerville (D-Richmond) will become Virginia's secretary of administration, overseeing government operations and managing the state's real estate portfolio. She will also oversee the state's procurement practices.
Baskerville, 54, decided not to seek reelection in November. Instead, she mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in the spring.
Kaine (D), who takes office Jan. 14, named Daniel G. LeBlanc, 61, the longtime president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, to be secretary of the commonwealth, putting him in charge of the new governor's political appointments to boards and commissions, among other duties.
Kaine also asked Robert S. Bloxom, 68, to remain as secretary of agriculture and forestry. Bloxom, a former Republican delegate, was the first person to serve as agriculture secretary, a position created last year by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).
Bloxom would continue to oversee the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Forestry and the Virginia Agricultural Council.
Thursday's announcements bring Kaine's Cabinet selections to eight. The incoming governor plans to announce his remaining three secretaries -- for transportation, education and commerce and trade -- early next month, said his press secretary, Delacey Skinner.
The appointees are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 11.
In picking Baskerville, Kaine rewards one of his long-standing political allies. He and Baskerville served together on the Richmond City Council in the mid-1990s. Baskerville said she hopes to help Kaine increase the number of contracts awarded to minorities, women and small businesses, "making sure that Virginia's record for the future is certainly not as gloomy as the record in the past." Virginia for years has been among the lowest in national rankings of states on hiring from such sectors.
In selecting LeBlanc, a strong voice in the state's labor movement, Kaine rewards a constituency that overwhelmingly supported the Democrat in the last election. Organized labor contributed $1.3 million to Kaine's campaign for governor, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan database of campaign filings.
"Danny has been a powerful voice for . . . working people," Kaine said at his Thursday news conference announcing the appointments. He said LeBlanc will help him "have a team that represents all of who Virginia is . . . including people in the talent pool who may not often get paid as much attention to as they should."
Several Republicans said that LeBlanc's selection is sure to rankle many in their legislative caucus. He, too, must be confirmed by the GOP-led General Assembly. Virginia is among the states that forbid labor contracts requiring union membership as a condition of employment.
"I'm sure there will be lots of questions about philosophy," said G. Paul Nardo, chief aide for House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
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