Stuart Brunson, deputy governor and chief of staff to Gov. Phil Bredesen, will leave his post in the next few weeks, according to NashvillePost.com sources.
Brunson has served as Bredesen's top aide for the past two years, assuming the position upon the departure of longtime Bredesen confidant Dave Cooley.
Prior to joining the Bredesen administration, Brunson had manged both of Bredesen's successful gubernatorial campaigns, the 2006 effort being the highwater mark for Democrats when Bredesen carried all 95 counties.
In addition to his campaign work, Brunson has had a varied career outside of politics. He has served as a vice president of Bredesen-owned health care information management company Qualifacts Systems, worked as a cotton broker and was a public relations executive at McNeely, Pigott & Fox in Nashville. He also spent one year as a lobbyist before returning to work for Bredesen.
The departure of Brunson will represent a challenge for Bredesen. Brunson is well respected on Capitol Hill and has been seen as a low-key, unassuming administrator who effectively managed egos and moved the governor's agenda through the labyrinth of state government. With Brunson gone, a new deputy governor will be called upon to keep Bredesen's senior staff and cabinet officials focused on their last two years on the job while working with the new Republican majority in the legislature.
Bredesen could opt to leave the position vacant, as it is not a post mandated by the state constitution. There is no word on what Brunson plans to do next.
The Governor's Office late this morning issued the following statement:
Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that Stuart Brunson, who has served as Deputy Governor since December 2006, will leave his administration later this month. Brunson has been a long-time advisor to Bredesen, serving as campaign manager for Bredesen's election in 2002 and for his re-election in 2006, in which the governor won all of Tennessee's 95 counties.
Brunson's last full day will be Friday, January 9, though he will remain available to assist with the transition to his successor. The Governor has not named a replacement.
Statement from Stuart Brunson:
"I am grateful to Governor Bredesen for the opportunity to have served on his team and serve the people of Tennessee. I appreciate the opportunity to have worked alongside a very talented team of commissioners, staff and countless other employees who work hard every day to ensure state government is meeting the needs of its citizens.
"I will spend the coming weeks determining what path I'll take forward as I transition from this role, and will remain committed to supporting Governor Bredesen as he continues the progress we've made under his leadership."
Statement from Governor Phil Bredesen:
"I have valued Stuart's counsel and his friendship over the years, and appreciate his service to our state. Stuart has been instrumental in our efforts to improve the way we fund K-12 education and to implement new accountability measures and raise standards in our schools. He has also been especially helpful in our efforts to recruit businesses and expand jobs during the past two years.
"I thank Stuart for his steady hand in managing my administration during his time with state government and I wish him continued success as moves to the next phase of his career."
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS