Some governors plan toned-down inaugural affairs

CHICAGO Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:56pm EST

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo celebrates after winning the election for Governor in New York, November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo celebrates after winning the election for Governor in New York, November 2, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - With the economy showing signs of life but millions of Americans still out of work, some newly elected or re-elected governors are keeping their inaugural parties simple, ranging from blue jeans to barbecue.

In New York, Governor-elect Andrew M. Cuomo plans a private swearing-in on Friday, followed by a small inauguration ceremony on Saturday and a public receiving line at the executive mansion.

In Minnesota, Gov.-elect Mark Dayton will wear blue jeans to his "People's Inaugural Ball" on January 8, which will be open to all Minnesotans for $15 to $30 a ticket.

In Texas, officials will host a "family-friendly" barbecue on the Capital grounds, at $8 a person. And in California, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown plans a free reception at the California State Railroad Museum.

"If you're looking for pomp and pageantry you'll have to look elsewhere," Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown, said in an interview.

The inaugurations come as most states continue to face big budget deficits, sluggish revenues, increased demand for services and the end of federal stimulus funding.

Cuomo said in a statement that "this is not a time for the grand and expensive celebrations of the recent past."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's inaugural information web site noted that the planned January 18 Texas ceremony is "scaled back" from prior years, with a barbecue rather than a parade, and an evening celebration where cocktail attire is "recommended rather than formal."

Not everyone's sparing the pomp -- incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a former health industry executive and venture capitalist, has raised $2 million for his inaugural party set for January 4, according to local media reports.

A ticket to the event goes for $95. Proceeds from funds raised by the black-tie event will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, according to Scott's web site.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski, with reporting by Karen Pierog and Eric Johnson, Editing by Peter Bohan)

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