Kansas governor-elect, Democratic leader names legislative aide as staff chief

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly has named a Democratic legislative leader's top aide as her chief of staff.

The incoming Democratic governor announced Will Lawrence's appointment Thursday and said he has a "sharp understanding of the legislative process."

Lawrence had been chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka since 2016 after serving as Hensley's staff attorney. He also was in a law firm with former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

During the governor's race, Lawrence filed an unsuccessful legal challenge to independent candidate Greg Orman's right to appear on the November ballot.

Kelly also has named 23 advisers for her transition team who include former Republican Gov. Mike Hayden. Also among them is former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who lost to Kelly in the Democratic primary.

With Lawrence moving into the Kelly administration, Senate Minority Leader and Topeka Democrat Anthony Hensley announced Thursday that Kerry Gooch will serve as his top aide. Gooch replaces Will Lawrence, who became Gov.-elect Laura Kelly's chief of staff.

Gooch managed the campaign of Democrat Paul Davis in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Davis narrowly lost to Republican Rep.-elect Steve Watkins.

Gooch also served as executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party from 2015 to 2017. He is the grandson of retired Democratic state Sen. Rip Gooch of Wichita.