Politics & Government

Kelly picks a chief of staff. Kansas lawmakers know him well

Kansas Gov-elect Laura Kelly has a chosen a face familiar to Kansas lawmakers to lead her office staff.

Will Lawrence will serve as Kelly’s chief of staff. Lawrence was previously chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley.

“Will is a highly-skilled professional with a proven track record in the legislature of working well with lawmakers regardless of political party,” Kelly said in a statement. “He has a sharp understanding of the legislative process and the challenges we face as a state. I’m pleased to have him on the team as we work to rebuild our state.”

Hensley announced that Kerry Gooch, Davis’ former congressional campaign manager, would take over as chief of staff to his office.

Lawrence is one of Kelly’s first permanent hires since her election in November. As an attorney, Lawrence worked in the firm Fagan Emert & Davis, where Democrat Paul Davis – a former governor and congressional candidate – also works.

Although he often works behind the scenes in the Statehouse, in August Lawrence challenged independent Greg Orman’s candidacy. He raised doubts about signatures collected by Orman as he sought a spot on the general election ballot. Ultimately, a Republican-controlled panel dismissed his objections.

Kelly has yet to announce any cabinet-level staff since the election, but has named her transition leaders. They include Duane Goossen, a former budget director under Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson and Bill Graves. Natalie Haag, chief of staff to Graves, is also part of the transition, along with Joyce Allegrucci, who was chief of staff to Sebelius.

Kelly’s campaign manager, Jordy Zeigler, is also on the transition team.

Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.