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Longtime Pence aide will serve as chief of staff

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 6:12 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov.-elect Mike Pence's top aide while serving in Congress said Tuesday that he will be following the congressman to the governor's office to serve as chief of staff.

Bill Smith, a veteran congressional staffer and political adviser, told The Associated Press that he accepted Pence's invitation to continue as his top aide after Pence is sworn in as governor in January. His decision came as Pence announced a slew of other key hires.

Smith is leading Pence's transition efforts and has been meeting with interested groups. He has also led the creation of the Pence's gubernatorial team, one that is quickly filling with veteran Republicans from around the state.

Republican School Superintendent Tony Bennett's chief of staff, Heather Neal, will work as Pence's legislative liaison. Marilee Springer will leave powerhouse law firm Ice Miller, which maintains a strong presence in the Statehouse, to run Pence's policy shop. During the campaign, Springer led the creation of Pence's education and job training proposals.

Pence campaign field director Chris Crabtree will become the governor's deputy chief of staff in charge of community relations, and congressional aide Jennifer Pavlik will run the governor's office and direct scheduling as director of operations.

Pence has already tapped veteran lawmaker Jeff Espich to serve as his chief lobbyist and Daniels administration veteran Chris Atkins to work as his budget director. Mark Ahearn, who has served Republican lawmakers stretching back to then-U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle, will be Pence's chief counsel.