Consultant and former Democratic lawmaker Chad Campbell will be Gov. Katie Hobbs’ new chief of staff, the governor announced this morning.
Hobbs and Campbell are longtime fixtures in the Arizona Democratic establishment – the pair served in the Arizona Legislature together, including a stint as seatmates.
“Chad’s extensive experience and commitment to working together to solve tough problems is exactly why he’s the best person for this job, and we’re eager to get to work on more bipartisan accomplishments to move our state forward,” Hobbs said in a news release on Wednesday morning.
“In the many years Gov. Hobbs and I have worked together, we’ve shared a commitment to bipartisan, solutions-oriented leadership. That’s what has made her such an effective governor, and that’s the approach the administration will continue to bring to all we do,” Campbell said in the statement.
The move came as no surprise – Campbell’s was the first and essentially only name seriously floated for the job after former chief of staff Allie Bones resigned earlier this month – and the pick drew compliments from both sides of the aisle today.
Republicans publicly praising Campbell on Thursday included Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix; consultant Matthew Benson; and all three chiefs of staff to former Gov. Doug Ducey: Daniel Scarpinato, Daniel Ruiz and Kirk Adams.
“Chad brings energy, passion, and a proven ability to work across the aisle to deliver results for Arizonans. I look forward to productive engagement on advancing bipartisan solutions,” Gress wrote on Twitter.
On the left, plaudits came from Attorney General Kris Mayes, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein, D-Tempe, and others. Epstein cited Campbell’s experience as House minority leader as an important qualification for the job.
“I think that experience will lend itself extremely well to creating processes that work,” she said.
Gaelle Esposito, a consultant with the progressive firm Creosote, told our reporter last week that she has “a ton of respect for (Campbell), even when we disagree.”
César Fierros, a spokesman for the progressive activist group LUCHA, said the organization “look(s) forward to continuing our collaboration with Governor Hobbs and now, with new Chief of Staff Chad Campbell.”
But if praise came from both sides of the aisle on Wednesday, it didn’t necessarily come from all corners. Spokespersons for Speaker of the House Ben Toma, R-Peoria, and Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
Campbell served four terms in the House from 2007 to 2014, including two terms as minority leader. His work in the legislature notably included negotiating a deal supported by Democrats, moderate Republicans and then-Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
Campbell was floated as a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, but never entered the race, choosing instead to go into lobbying and political consulting. He joined Strategies 360 and later created Lumen Strategies with fellow Democratic consultant Stacy Pearson.
On Wednesday, Pearson said Campbell took the chief of staff job out of a dedication to public service and that she’s not expecting him to return to the consulting firm at a particular date after a tour of service in the governor’s office.
“The plan now is for him to serve the administration, so that’s really as far as we’ve gone,” Pearson said.
“The biggest win is for the state… Chad just has command of policy and procedures in a way that I think is going to be really helpful,” she added.
Among Campbell’s tasks will be to repair the governor’s relationship with Democratic lawmakers, many of whom were frustrated by this year’s budget process, and to advance some of Hobbs’ larger policy priorities.
“Long term… he’s going to be able to actually make the things that she wants to do become reality,” said Barrett Marson, a GOP consultant.
But he said the more immediate goal will be to deliver some stability to a gubernatorial administration that’s already seen some substantial turnover in its first five months. Campbell will take the job vacated abruptly last week by the resignation of Bones. Earlier this year, a pair of top communications staffers in the governor’s office left their jobs in the same week, generating rumors of malcontent in the executive tower.
“The most important short-term thing that Chad’s hire represents (is), he will stanch the bleeding,” Marson said.