Gov. Mike Pence is reaching across party lines to fill an open seat in his administration.
The governor on Wednesday announced Democrat Jim Schellinger will head the state’s economic development agency.
Schellinger, who’s served on the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors since Pence took office, will take a leave of absence from his role as CEO of the Indianapolis company CSO Architects.
The Hoosier Democrat ran for governor in 2008, losing in the primary. But Pence says Schellinger’s political affiliation has nothing to do with his appointment.
“I don’t think jobs is a partisan issue and I really mean it from my heart when I say I’ve got a Republican on my left and I’ve got a Democrat on my right, but we’re all in this together,” Pence says.
The governor’s new appointee largely dodged questions about the impact of the state’s controversial religious freedom law.
During his introductory press conference Wednesday, Schellinger was asked both about the impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, and whether Indiana needs a civil rights ordinance protecting the LGBT community.
“You know, as we attract companies and as we attract businesses here, that’s just one of many, many issues they look at,” he says. “There’s lot of issues; that’s just one of them. And I’m comfortable and confident that the governor is working hard to reach out throughout the state, to listen to people, and that he is going to listen to all walks of life and determine what his legislative agenda should be.”
Schellinger and his wife last year donated $15,000 dollars to Pence.
Schellinger says it’s because, in his time on the IEDC board, he was impressed by the governor’s commitment to job creation.
Pence says while he appreciates any support he receives, he’s confident Schellinger is the right choice for the job.