Gov.-elect Matt Blunt has selected his former Sunday school teacher, Ken McClure, to be his chief of staff.
“I’m very pleased that Ken McClure has agreed to continue assisting me in this effort,” Blunt said Tuesday.
Asked if he still serves as a mentor to Blunt, McClure said it’s usually the other way around now.
“He’s very knowledgeable, very studious, very much aware of what’s going on,” McClure said. “We have a very good relationship where we can sit down and talk, share concepts, share ideas.”
McClure, director of Blunt’s transition team, is a longtime family friend. The two met in Jefferson City when U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, Matt Blunt’s father, was secretary of state in the late 1980s.
McClure’s younger brother, Rich McClure, was chief of staff for former Gov. John Ashcroft from 1985 to 1992. Rich McClure is now president of UniGroup Inc., the parent company of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.
“My brother has advised me on a couple of things,” Ken McClure said. “One is to juggle the balls in the air and make sure you keep focus on what is the priority of the moment and don’t let the balls drop.”
McClure, 54, began his political career when the governor-elect was a toddler. He worked for the state of Missouri for 23 years, beginning in 1974. From 1981 to early 1990, he was deputy director for administration for the Department of Economic Development. In 1990, Ashcroft appointed McClure to the Missouri Public Service Commission. Ashcroft later chose him to chair the commission.
When Blunt named McClure to direct his transition team in early November, McClure said he offered institutional memory.
“I bring some needed history and experience that is difficult to find simply because it’s been 30 years,” he said at the time.
“Coming back to state government was never an intent of mine,” McClure said Tuesday. “But over the past several months, you start focusing on what is important, and public service is very important to me.”
The decision to return to state government wasn’t easy, McClure said, but he found it difficult to tell Blunt no.
“Opportunities like this are very few and far between,” McClure said. “An opportunity to have a meaningful impact certainly weighs very heavily on this decision.”
Blunt has talked about structural changes that would place even greater demands on his chief of staff.
“It would be a demanding job at any time and under any circumstances, and certainly in the next four years it will be a demanding task given everything we want to accomplish,” Blunt said.
The position of chief of staff will pay $112,000 annually, “significantly less,” McClure said, than his salary as associate manager for administration for city utilities in Springfield, where he has worked since 1997.