Virginia Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (D) plans to announce Thursday that he has tapped his predecessor's chief of staff to stay on in the new administration, according to two sources close to the gubernatorial transition.
Kaine has asked William H. Leighty, a veteran bureaucrat and a highly praised manager, to reprise the role he played for Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). Leighty has accepted, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Kaine had not announced the decision.
The pick is Kaine's first public decision since he defeated Republican Jerry W. Kilgore one week ago. It suggests Kaine plans to govern the same way he ran for office: as if his term is the second term that Warner is barred by law from having.
"Kaine made a promise in the campaign that he would maintain continuity with the Warner administration," said Mark Rozell, a professor of politics at George Mason University. "People will say he's keeping that promise."
Leighty, 52, is credited for whipping state agencies into shape during the first two years of Warner's term. Governing magazine named Virginia the best-managed state in the nation in 2004 -- a fact that Kaine cited repeatedly during the campaign.
A longtime adviser at senior levels of state government, Leighty has worked for every governor since Gerald L. Baliles in the 1980s. He is known for keeping track of to-do lists on color-coded index cards he tucks into his shirt pocket.
When Warner plucked him from the state's pension system in 2001, he said Leighty would be his "right arm." At the time, Leighty said he took the job "for one simple reason: to serve Virginia. It's sort of been the way I've been raised throughout my career."
Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner would not confirm whether Leighty would be staying on in the Cabinet-level position.
"Certainly, Virginians can expect to hear more in the coming days and weeks about Cabinet appointments," she said. Leighty, reached by phone, referred all calls to the Kaine transition office.
The salary for the governor's chief of staff will be $141,288 as of Nov. 25
The two sources said Kaine has decided to first assemble his third-floor staff, referring to the senior advisers who work for the governor on that floor in the state's executive office building. The sources said Kaine is likely to name his chief counsel and director of policy soon.
That would be followed by Kaine's Cabinet secretaries for finance, transportation, public safety, health and human services, economic development, natural resources and agriculture.
Kaine could also tap Warner veterans for those jobs. Some names being mentioned are Deputy Finance Secretary Pamela Currey or Budget Director Richard D. Brown for secretary of finance, and Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer. Kaine might also consider former Fairfax Board of Supervisors chairman Katherine K. Hanley for the transportation job.