Texas Gov. Rick Perry caps communications staffers

AUSTIN, TX: Veteran Texas business advocate Robert Howden will spearhead communications efforts for new Texas governor Rick Perry.

AUSTIN, TX: Veteran Texas business advocate Robert Howden will spearhead communications efforts for new Texas governor Rick Perry.

AUSTIN, TX: Veteran Texas business advocate Robert Howden will spearhead communications efforts for new Texas governor Rick Perry.

Perry ascended to the governorship from the lieutenant governor's slot the week before Christmas, when George W. Bush officially vacated the state's highest office to focus on his presidential transition.

Perry announced an entire slate of staff appointments the day after assuming office, giving Howden the nod for communications director.

Since 1990, Howden had worked in Austin as executive director of the Texas office of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Before Democratic Gov. Ann Richards' election in 1990, Howden worked for Republican Gov. William Clements and as marketing manager for the Texas Department of Commerce.

Kathy Walt, whom Perry had appointed press secretary while lieutenant governor, will keep the same title on the new governor's staff. Walt wrote for the Houston Chronicle for 13 years, most recently as a capitol correspondent.

Rounding out Perry's communications team is deputy communications director Luis Saenz, who most recently worked as an executive assistant for Texas comptroller Carole Keaton Rylander.

By the time Bush abdicated his governorship, deputy communications director Mike Jones was the only spokesperson left on Bush's state-paid staff.

Communications director Linda Edwards stepped down in early December to be a full-time mother, and other positions had been left unfilled for weeks, and even months.

The fact that the Texas Legislature doesn't meet in even-numbered years, combined with Bush's focus on his presidential campaign, lightened the load for his gubernatorial staff. Jones said his immediate plans are to seek another communications job in state government.



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