@stevekraske Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback today denied that his chief of staff, David Kensinger, is leaving his administration.
But the rumor is racing around the Statehouse, and one conservative senator told Midwest Democracy today that the story is true.
Kensinger is said to be headed out the door to focus on winning conservative control of the state Senate this summer.
Kensinger declined several requests for comment Thursday and Friday, but sent an April Fool's Day spoof story suggesting he was headed to the Kansas City Royals to compete for the second baseman's job. Kensinger is a huge baseball fan.
He helped guide the GOP's "clean sweep" strategy of 2010 that resulted in just that -- a clean sweep of statewide offices in Kansas, including Brownback's win of the governorship, and dominance of both houses of the Legislature.
The state Senate is closely split between conservatives and moderates with moderates holding a slight edge. The moderate GOP coalition is a thorn in Brownback's side as he tries to bring sweeping conservative reform to Topeka.
Moderate leaders, including Senate President Steve Morris of southwest Kansas and John Vratil of Leawood, are among moderate senators seeking re-election this year who have drawn primary opponents.
Kensinger, a Topeka native, is a long-standing Brownback ally who once worked as his Senate chief of staff in Washington.
He left in 2004 to form Kensinger and Associates based in Topeka. That's a lobbying and political consulting outfit.
The loss of Kensinger, while not a major surprise, would be seen as another sign of how eager conservatives are to take control of the Senate. They already control the House.
If Kensinger is leaving, "It sends a direct message to the governor’s enemies, and it should scare the living daylights out of them," said state Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican and conservative.
"I wouldn't want to be up against David Kensinger."
Tensions between conservatives and moderates in the Senate are at a high as lawmakers wrapped up work Friday prior to a three-week spring recess.