Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has launched his nascent administration well, appointing a cadre of old hands to key positions. Among them, Ric Brown -- soon to serve his 11th Virginia governor -- will continue as Secretary of Finance. The budget is the portal through which so much government policy moves, which makes intimate knowledge of state finance crucial to the success of any administration.
Paul Reagan, lately chief of staff to Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, will take the same position under McAuliffe. Suzette Denslow, another veteran of state government now working for Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, will move back across Broad Street. Levar Stoney -- who has worked for state Democrats in a variety of positions -- will become Secretary of the Commonwealth, which will enable him to make an almost endless series of patronage appointments. McAuliffe has a lot of favors to return, and having a Democratic operative in charge of repaying them is smart politics. We hope the political angle will not overwhelm the best interests of the commonwealth.
Gun-rights activists are frothing at the mouth over the appointment of Lori Haas to McAuliffe's transition team. Haas, a gun-control activist, is the mother of Emily Haas, who was shot during Seung-Hui Cho's murderous rampage at Virginia Tech six years ago. This is mountains-out-of-molehill stuff: Transition team appointments are symbolic and insignificant. Besides, McAuliffe already has left little doubt where he stands on guns -- he said during the campaign he didn't care a bit what rating he got from the NRA. Did gun-rights advocates think he was going to appoint Wayne LaPierre?
The important appointments are the ones that count, and so far McAuliffe is staying well within the guardrails of tradition and common sense. He might plow through them more than once in the coming four years, but Virginia should take it as an encouraging sign that he has not stumbled right out of the gate.