SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California grower-shippers will have at least one voice close to the ear of its governor-elect as he prepares to take office.

Wasting no time after the Oct. 7 recall election in which he unseated Gov. Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked U.S. Rep. David Dreier, R-Covina, to begin appointing a transition advisory team of 40 to 50 people.

Even before the votes were tallied, Dreier enlisted the services of Tom Nassif, president of Irvine-based Western Growers.

Nassif, of course, is no stranger to politics. Before joining Western Growers nearly two years ago, Nassif was managing partner of Aequitas International Consulting, a political and international business consulting firm.

And in the 1980s he served as the U.S. ambassador to Morocco under President Reagan. Before that, he served as a deputy assistant secretary of state for the Near East and South Asian affairs.

“I told him how much I appreciated the offer and how happy I am to help,” Nassif said.

Western Growers, along with the Sacramento-based California Farm Bureau Federation, came out early in the 10-week recall election campaign and endorsed both the recall and Schwarzenegger.

Nassif said he was delighted with the results of the election.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction for agriculture,” Nassif said. “I think the needs of agriculture and the needs of the state and the needs of business go hand in hand.”

Nassif said he believed Schwarzenegger will be a strong voice for agriculture in the state’s capital.

“He’ll apply pressure to legislators who would not yield to Davis,” Nassif said. “He has the potential for vetoing, and Davis didn’t. Davis said he would veto, but he always backed down.”