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* NEW JOB: I learned this morning that Ryan James had been introduced to staff as communications director for the Arkansas Insurance Department. James, a long-time Republican political operator, served a short stint as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman but left following a traffic ticket mishap.

It was announced last week that “transitions” of programs in the Insurance Department would mean layoffs of six employees, including department spokesman Seth Blomeley, who’d been hired by former Director Jay Bradford, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. The director now is Allen Kerr, a former Republican legislator tapped by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

James says he is replacing Alice Jones, who’s retiring from her job.

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