When Matt Blunt appointed Ken McClure to lead his transition team, Blunt probably didn’t think his first public decision as Missouri’s newly elected governor would be compared to that of the U.S. president.
Yet that’s the comparison one political analyst makes, citing Bush’s choice of his dad’s top aides for jobs like vice president and defense secretary.
Blunt’s choice of McClure — a seasoned veteran of Missouri politics — demonstrates some confidence in working with older and more experienced people, said Dave Robertson, political professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“It’s very early to tell, but this clearly is the George W. Bush model in which a less experienced individual appoints really experienced people,” Robertson said.
On the same night Bush won re-election, Blunt, who turns 34 on Nov. 20, became the second youngest person in Missouri history to be elected governor.
McClure, a longtime Blunt family friend, began his political career when the governor-elect was just a toddler.
McClure, who led Blunt’s transition team when he was elected secretary of state in 2000, worked for the state of Missouri for 23 years from 1974 to 1997.
Blunt and McClure met in Jefferson City when U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt was secretary of state.
“I met the governor-elect literally at church,” McClure said. “He was in my Sunday school class.”
At a news conference to introduce McClure as his transition team director, Blunt praised McClure’s work as an unpaid policy adviser during the campaign.
“Ken was instrumental during the campaign in helping us to develop a public-policy initiative and ideas,” Blunt said.
McClure said he is now helping Blunt find people to fill Cabinet and staff-level positions.
“I think you will see a good mix of people with a variety of experience,” McClure said, pointing to staffing decisions Blunt made during his tenure as secretary of state.
There has been talk of making some structural changes, McClure said.
McClure was working with the legislature when Blunt’s father was in the state House — the same time as the last major reorganization in 1974.
As a result, McClure said, he can bring institutional memory to the process.
“I bring some needed history and experience that is difficult to find simply because it’s been 30 years,” McClure said.
The Springfield, Mo., native received a bachelor of arts degree from Southwest Missouri State University and a master of arts degree from MU.
From 1981 to early 1990, McClure was deputy director for the administration for the Economic Development Department.
In 1990, McClure was appointed to the utility-regulating Public Service Commission by then Gov. John Ashcroft and later appointed by Ashcroft as the commission’s chairman.
McClure, who is married and has two adult daughters, returned to Springfield in 1997 when his term on the commission expired. That same year he went to work with city utilities of Springfield and is now the associate general manager for administration for city utilities.
McClure, who is volunteering his services to Blunt, is using accrued vacation time to spend time in Jefferson City.
“This is something I enjoy doing. I can be of help to the new governor and help him in formulating the basis of his administration,” McClure said.
As for any long-term role with a Blunt administration, McClure said he was not looking beyond the Jan. 10 inauguration.
McClure’s younger brother Rich McClure was chief of staff in the Ashcroft administration from 1985 to 1992. Rich McClure is now president of UniGroup Inc., the parent company of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.