Gov.-elect Nathan Deal's appointments
Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development
Mike Beatty, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs
Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Todd Long, planning director of the Department of Transportation
Greg Dozier, commissioner of the Department of Driver Services
Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia
Maj. Gen. William Terry Nesbitt, adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard
Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency
Steve Stancil, director of the Georgia Building Authority, State Property Commission and the Financing and Investment Commission.
Deal is still considering 51 major appointments and nominations before January, including the Department of Revenue commissioner and two new Board of Regents positions to oversee the University System of Georgia's 35 colleges and universities.
Gov.-elect Nathan Deal has started on a long list of appointments in state government, starting with a new face and a few familiar ones.
On Monday, Deal nominated Chris Cummiskey as commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and reappointed leaders in several departments.
Cummiskey is currently the director of state relations for the University of Georgia. He has also worked for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and served as the chief of staff to former Georgia House speaker Glenn Richardson.
Ross Alexander, a political science professor at North Georgia College & State University, said new appointments are usually made as a reflection of job performance and in part for political reasons. Deal was likely making a statement by appointing someone new to the Department of Economic Development.
"The economy was the No. 1 campaign issue for just about anyone running for any office," Alexander said. "I think that totally is an adroit move to demonstrate to the voters and to the state that there's some fresh blood, we're going to have some new ideas and we're going to tackle these challenges."
Brian Robinson, who has been appointed Deal's deputy chief of staff for communications, said Deal's appointments are mostly a reflection of his personal taste.
"There are situations where you have your own people you want to put in and there's situations that you don't," Robinson said.
Deal reappointed several current state leaders, including Mike Beatty as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Vernon Keenan as director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Todd Long as planning director of the Department of Transportation.
Robinson said Deal is still considering the remainder of the 51 major appointments and nominations he will make before January.
"There are some excellent leaders throughout Georgia state government and the governor-elect is meeting everyday for many hours with his transition team going department by department, agency by agency to find the best candidates whether they be currently in those positions or whether the governor-elect decides to bring in new blood," Robinson said.
Alexander said it is understandable that Deal has decided to bring so many sitting state leaders into his administration.
"Nathan Deal is very well-connected with the Republican establishment in the state of Georgia and he's probably familiar with a lot of the people that were serving in those roles — similar party, similar background, might even know them on a personal basis," Alexander said. "So when you have a pretty easy transition in the same party from administration to administration, I don't think it's too surprising to see many of the same people stay in those jobs."
Robinson said there are many boards and agencies that Deal will have to review before he takes office in January.
"Most of these positions serve at pleasure of the governor. He's the CEO and he can hire as he pleases," Robinson said. "There are other positions, such as the commissioner of economic development, where the governor nominates a candidate and the board of that department will have the final say over whether that candidate is hired."
Deal will also appoint two members to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. This year, the board will name a new chancellor, an important appointment that the new governor will likely have some influence on, Alexander said.
"Enrollment in the University System of Georgia is up and it's skyrocketing, yet we really don't have the infrastructure and the classroom space, etc., to meet the demand," Alexander said. "It's a major issue for the entire state from a higher education perspective."