Archive for Friday, January 6, 2006

Academics draw professor back to schoolhouse from Statehouse

Loomis: Partisanship ‘permeated everything’

January 6, 2006


After a year at the center of Kansas politics, professor Burdett Loomis is leaving his temporary seat in the governor's office and returning to his full-time job at Kansas University.

"In the end, I'm an academic," said Loomis, a political science professor who has served as director of administrative communications for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius since December 2004.

It was a whirlwind year. Loomis was in the governor's office to see the heated partisan battles over education finance and a rare special session. Along the way, he worked with a staff and administration he says got along with genuine teamwork and little contention.

Loomis said he left the office with tremendous respect for the governor, who he described as a policy wonk with an "executive personality" and mental and physical toughness.

"I'm really amazed at how good she was at always being on the ball," he said.

But, he said, partisanship at the Capitol could make it tough to get things done. Loomis said the governor's health plan died last year because of partisanship. And the gubernatorial ambitions of House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, didn't help, he said.

"There was a lot of tension there," Loomis said.

Mays later announced he would not run for governor in the next election, and Loomis said he thought the relationship between the governor and the Republican-dominated House may be more cooperative now that Mays is out of the race.

Loomis said he found deep political divisions among lawmakers.

"That partisanship - it permeated everything - was very frustrating," he said.

Loomis, 60, said he ended the stint because he preferred the role and pace of an academic. And he said he had other goals to pursue.

"I'm still much more an academic than I am a partisan," he said.

Loomis' position in the governor's office will not be filled. Instead, his duties will be absorbed by existing staff, said Nicole Corcoran, Sebelius' spokeswoman.


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