TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- State Democrats should discuss assigning an interim executive director to work with outgoing party leader Jay Parmley in exploring changes that need to be made, Gov. Brad Henry said Friday.
Parmley, who serves as both the party's chairman and executive director, has announced he will leave the job when his term ends in May.
Assigning an executive director to work under Parmley's chairmanship until then "is certainly a legitimate topic for discussion," Henry said after a speech at the midwinter convention of the Oklahoma Press Association.
"I want to get ready for May," the state's top elected Democrat said. "I don't want to have the reins turned over in May and we've got a whole new team in place, and we haven't worked together."
Henry said he has had discussions with state party leaders and other elected officials but had not spoken with Parmley about such a move.
"I appreciate the service of Jay Parmley," Henry said. "I respect his decision, and I wish him well in the future."
Parmley was in Washington, D.C., attending a meeting of national Democrats and did not have time to respond directly to an Associated Press request for comment, state party spokesman Robert Blunt said.
But when Parmley left for the meeting "he believed in his heart of hearts that he wasn't going to resign as chairman or executive director until May," said Blunt, after speaking with Parmley by phone about the governor's comments.
Parmley said he was willing to talk with the governor about the issue when he returns, Blunt said.
The executive director typically is chosen at the state convention in May, and Blunt did not know if the party's charter included provisions for naming an interim executive director.
But "we're working here to make sure the transition is going to be as smooth as possible," Blunt said.
Parmley had held the position since May 2001.
Democrats lost their majority in the state House in November and also failed to win Oklahoma's open U.S. Senate seat.