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Gov. Doug Ducey's top aide leaving, spokesman promoted

Posted at 5:41 PM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 19:41:46-05

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's chief of staff, Kirk Adams, said Monday that he is stepping down after four years and Ducey promoted his longtime spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, to fill the post helping the governor with policy, staffing and negotiations with the Legislature.

Scarpinato has been deputy chief of staff for communications and strategic planning since Ducey took office in 2015 but took a leave to serve on the governor's re-election campaign earlier this year.

"Daniel's experience, his ability to solve problems, and his reputation for working with others to get things done gives me great confidence in his ability to lead our exceptional team as we advance an agenda of opportunity for all," Ducey said in a statement.

Adams helped the Republican governor negotiate his first term in office and said that although he's loved every minute of the high-pressure job it is time to "move on and find another adventure."

Adams is a former Arizona House speaker who became chief of staff after Ducey was elected in 2014. The chief of staff helps the governor set policy and negotiate with lawmakers on budget and other issues. Ducey won re-election Nov. 6.

Adams has been seen as a potential pick for the late Sen. John McCain's seat now held by Jon Kyl.

Kyl said when he was appointed in September that he might serve only until January. If he leaves, Ducey will appoint a replacement until 2020, when there will be an election to fill the last two years of McCain's term.

Ducey has sidestepped questions about a potential replacement for Kyl.

"We have this hard and fast rule that we don't comment on any of this, because right now there is no vacancy," Adams said.

Scarpinato, 37, is a former Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Capitol Times journalist who moved into media relations and communications. He worked for Arizona House Republicans and later as press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee before being hired by Ducey. He is a Tucson native and graduated from the University of Arizona.

In his current role, Scarpinato helped the governor develop policy and took the lead in communications with the press.

Ducey praised Adams as a critical member of his team.

"Kirk's long list of accomplishments prior to joining our team has grown exponentially over the last four years thanks to his unrivaled talent, policy depth, remarkable leadership and ability to build consensus among Arizona stakeholders," Ducey said in a statement.

Adams said he's not sure what he'll be doing next. The 45-year-old Republican from Mesa was appointed to the state House in 2006, won a full term later that year and became speaker two years later. He resigned his House seat in 2011 for an unsuccessful 2012 bid for Congress.

He headed Ducey's transition team after the 2014 election and was later named chief of staff.