State Politics

Longtime Thom Tillis aide joins Trump administration

Ray Starling, left, with Thom Tillis at the N.C. legislature in 2014.
Ray Starling, left, with Thom Tillis at the N.C. legislature in 2014. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Ray Starling, who worked for Sen. Thom Tillis in the U.S. Senate and the N.C. House, is joining President Donald Trump’s administration as special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance.

Starling had most recently served as Tillis’ chief of staff in the Senate. Before that, he was general counsel in the Republican’s Senate office and in the office of N.C. House Speaker. Starling has also served as an adviser to Tillis on agricultural policy.

He was general counsel at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before working for Tillis.

Tillis Starling’s new job in a news release Monday.

“There is simply no one better qualified than Ray to advise the President on agriculture and trade policy,” Tillis said. “Ray has been a lifelong champion for North Carolina’s agricultural industry, and he will now play a major role in fulfilling the administration’s plans to support our nation’s farmers and ranchers and revitalize rural America.”

Tillis also announced that his state director, Jordan Shaw, will serve as interim chief of staff.

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