Kaine's Chief of Staff Is Leaving His Position

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2007

RICHMOND, May 23 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) announced Wednesday that his longtime chief of staff, William H. Leighty, is stepping down.

Leighty, 53, will be replaced by Deputy Chief of Staff Wayne Turnage beginning Friday. In recent months, there has been increasing friction between Leighty, whose skill is government operations, and Kaine's political advisers.

He has served as Kaine's chief of staff since the governor took office in January 2006. A veteran bureaucrat, Leighty also served as chief of staff during the four years Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) was in office.

Leighty, who began his career in state government in 1978, had a strong interest in emergency preparedness and disaster response. He took charge of the state's initial response to the Virginia Tech massacre last month until Kaine could return from a trade mission in Asia.

In 2005, Warner dispatched Leighty to Louisiana for several weeks to help Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Leighty is also credited with helping to strengthen the finances of state agencies during the first two years of Warner's term.

"When I announced Bill Leighty's reappointment, I said that I hired him to worry about those things that otherwise would keep me awake at night, and I have had many restful nights for the last 16 months," Kaine said in a statement.

Leighty, one of the longest-serving chiefs of staff currently employed by a governor, said he wants to spend more time with his family.

"The life expectancy a chief of staff is in the 11- to 13-month category, and I am on my 63rd month," Leighty said. "And this is the 63rd month in a row where I have told my wife, 'Next month is going to be much better.' "

Turnage, 48, also has extensive experience in state government. Before becoming Kaine's deputy chief of staff, he served as a special adviser to Warner on special projects, including Medicaid structuring and general health-care issues. For Kaine, he has led projects such as the governor's performance management initiative.

"Wayne has impressed me with his no-nonsense management approach, and his deep experience in state government, especially in the health-care arena," Kaine said. "He is a consummate public servant whose years of experience will continue to serve Virginians."

Leighty's retirement comes amid a number of staffing changes within Kaine's administration. William L. "Bill" Murray, the governor's legislative director, announced earlier this month that he is leaving the administration to become a director of public policy for Dominion Virginia Power.

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