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Skvarla names DENR team

Secretary John Skvarla Wednesday named his team to run the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. As expected, former state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a small business owner and a long-time critic of DENR, was named assistant secretary for the environment. Brad Ives was named assistant secretary for natural resources. He is currently vice president for corporate development at Semprius, a manufacturer of solar panels in Research Triangle Park. Neal Robbins was named director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs. He is an attorney with Robbins Law in Winston-Salem, where his practice focused on debtor-creditor issues. Lacy Presnell, a Raleigh attorney, was named general counsel. Mary Penny Thompson, who had been chief deputy, was named acting assistant secretary for administration.

New polling outfit to survey N.C.

Another pollster will be surveying North Carolinians.

A group of Republican consultants and strategists have started Carolina Strategy Group, a business-focused firm that will regularly poll state voters.

Paul Shumaker, a longtime consultant who is currently advising Sen. Richard Burr's re-election campaign, said that he started the firm to pursue business work apart from his political consulting.

"I'm trying to provide a little bit of a buffer," he said.

Other members of the firm include media consultant Jean-Paul Damé, attorney Roger Knight, Virginia consultant Vick Gresham, South Carolina consultant Mark Lisella, attorney Neal Robbins and public relations executive Tim Pittman, the former press secretary for Gov. Jim Martin.

Shumaker said the firm will do two or three polls a month on public opinion issues that could affect business, such as state taxes, but he does not plan to do "horse race" polls on how candidates are doing.

Carolina Strategy Group will be the fourth major pollster in the state, after the Elon University Poll, Democratic firm Public Policy Polling and the conservative Civitas Institute.

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