Pat Quinn Rehires His Old Chief of Staff as an Adviser

Jerry Stermer resigned as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn 's chief of staff in August amid a controversy. Now, Quinn is bringing Stermer back into his administration as a senior adviser, the Chicago Sun-Times reports . An ethics investigation by Executive Inspector General James A. Wright prompted Stermer's departure. That report briefly took center stage in the campaign for governor after Quinn fired Wright on the same day Wright's report on Stermer was released. Quinn said the timing was a coincidence, but he accepted Stermer's resignation anyway as critics contended that the governor was trying to stifle investigations into his administration. Most ethics watchdogs described Stermer's offenses as mild. He sent three political e-mails from a state e-mail account, then voluntarily reported them to Wright. At the time, even Wright himself said that he wouldn't have recommended that Stermer be fired for the e-mails.

One of the top aides to South Dakota Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard will be someone he's likely familiar with from the Thanksgiving dinner table.  Tony Venhuizen , Daugaard's son-in-law, will serve as the new Republican governor's director of policy and communications, the Rapid City Journal reports . Democrats said the move smacked of nepotism, but Daugaard said he is simply looking for the best people. "You don't want to consider or exclude from consideration someone because of something that is not related to qualifications for the job," he told the JournalChris Daugaard , the incoming governor's son, also has been hired as an entry-level analyst for the state Public Utilities Commission.

Annie Noonan spent almost three decades advocating on behalf of Vermont state workers. Now she'll be managing them. Vermont's incoming governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin, has picked Noonan as his commissioner of labor, the Burlington Free Press reports . Before going to work for a Connecticut union in 2008, Noonan spent 28 years with the Vermont State Employees Association, including 13 as its director. The VSEA endorsed Shumlin in his campaign for governor against Republican Brian Dubie.

On Election Day, Republicans won their first majority in the Alabama House of Representatives since Reconstruction. It took them only three more weeks to win their first supermajority. Four House Democrats have switched to the Republicans, the Montgomery Advertiser reports . The move gives Republicans enough votes in both houses of the legislature to advance bills without being stifled by Democratic delaying tactics. "They're switching for one reason. They are philosophically aligned with the Republican Party," likely incoming House Speaker Mike Hubbard said, according to the Advertiser .  Post-election, Democratic legislators have defected to the Republicans not only in Alabama, but also in Louisiana and Georgia — Deep South states where conservative Democrats gradually have been becoming conservative Republicans for years. Republicans also have welcomed a Democratic party-switcher in Maine and another in South Dakota .

Calvin Say has served as Hawaii 's House Speaker for more than a decade, but he's now facing opposition from within his own Democratic caucus, the Star Advertiser reports . As speaker, Say has opposed tax increases and has supported reduced benefits for state employees. While the major state employees union is staying out, Say does appear to face some union opposition.  State Rep. Roy Takumi , one of Say's possible opponents, is an employee of the state AFL-CIO, the Advertiser notes.

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