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Kansas Congressman Steve Watkins shakes up staff after less than a year in office

Freshman Rep. Steve Watkins will be shaking up his staff eight months into his first term in office.

Colin Brainard will be stepping down as the Kansas Republican’s chief of staff next month, Watkins’ office confirmed.

Brainard, a former deputy chief of staff for Watkins’ predecessor Lynn Jenkins, has more than a decade of experience on Capitol Hill. He was seen as a steady hand to guide the political newcomer when he was selected to serve as Watkins’ top aide.

Watkins prevailed in a seven-way GOP primary last year, winning the general election by 2 percentage points after campaigning as a political outsider.

Brainard was one of several ex-Jenkins staffers to join Watkins’ team, which helped smooth relations with GOP establishment figures who were skeptical of Watkins during the campaign. Watkins compared the hires partnering with local guides in Afghanistan and Iraq during his time in the Army.

Brainard will be replaced by Jim Joice, a former executive director of the Kansas Republican Party who currently serves as Watkins’ communications director.

“I cannot thank Colin Brainard enough for his leadership and guidance over my first seven months in office. I am proud of the record of success and service that my office has already been able to establish, and I believe that we are on a trajectory that will allow me to continue to be an effective advocate for the folks of Kansas’ Second Congressional District,” Watkins said in a statement confirming the staff change.

“Colin will remain on my team through August and will help with the leadership transition to ensure I continue to be in the best position to represent Kansans.”

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