Republican Gov.-elect Haley Barbour said his transition team chairmen are experienced leaders who demonstrate the kind of political and racial diversity he intends to have in his administration.
The transition chairmen, announced Tuesday, are former Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson of Jackson and Hancock Bank CEO George Schloegel of Gulfport.
"I find in life, if you want to get somebody really good to do something hard, find the busiest people you can find,'' Barbour said during a news conference at the Clarion hotel near downtown Jackson. "And these are two of the busiest guys that you can find, but they want to do something that will make a difference for Mississippi.''
Anderson, a longtime Democrat, was the first black Mississippi Supreme Court justice since Reconstruction, serving 1985-90. He is a lawyer and has served on corporate boards with Barbour, including the board of Mississippi Chemical Corp. Barbour said he has known Anderson since he was a young lawyer and Anderson was a circuit judge two decades ago.
Schloegel served on Democratic Gov. William Winter's transition team after the 1979 election and was founder and the first chairman of Coast 21, a strategic planning group.
Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, defeated Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in last week's election and takes office Jan. 13.
Anderson said he had three conversations with Barbour about the transition before his appointment as co-chairman was announced. He said Barbour confirmed a "commitment to diversity and inclusion.''
"He's committed to what I'm committed to in Mississippi, and that's making Mississippi a better place for everybody,'' Anderson said.
Schloegel, appointed by Musgrove to serve on the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission, said: "I've had the honor of voting for both Democrats and Republicans. I've had the honor of serving with both Democrats and Republicans. And I look forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans.''
Barbour stepped back to the microphones and deadpanned: "I'm glad I didn't have to run against either one of them.''
Barbour said several other people have agreed to work on the transition, including former state Rep. Charlie Williams, an ex-Democrat who switched to the GOP and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1999; and Jimmy Heidel, who led the state's economic development agency under Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice in the 1990s.
Democrat Gary Anderson, defeated by Republican Tate Reeves in the state treasurer's race last week, attended Barbour's news conference and spoke quietly with the governor-elect after it was over. Gary Anderson was director of the state Department of Finance and Administration the first 3 1/2 years of Musgrove's administration and left DFA to run for treasurer.
Asked if he's seeking a job under Barbour, Gary Anderson said: "I came here and just wanted to show my support for the incoming governor. You know, with his priorities in jobs and all of that, I just wanted to be able to let him know that I support him. I'm looking forward to seeing the state move forward.''
Asked if he voted for Musgrove or Barbour last week, Anderson said: "I'm not going to comment on voting.''