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Tomblin's chief of staff stepping down

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With the legislative session over, Rob Alsop finally had a chance to get to his daughter's softball game before it started last week. His oldest daughter, Audrey, ran up to him, surprised and ecstatic. "She said, 'Dad you made it on time for the game,' " Alsop recalled Tuesday.Alsop, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's chief of staff for the past two years, plans to step down next month, saying he'll seek a new job that allows him to spend more time with his wife and three daughters -- ages 3, 6 and 9.He hopes to make it a habit of being at his kids' ballgames before the first pitch. "My little girls are growing up," Alsop wrote in his resignation letter to Tomblin. "It is time for me to pursue opportunities that will allow me to be a bigger part of their lives."Alsop turned in his resignation on April 13, the last day of the regular legislative session. He formally announced his departure Tuesday."I love my job. I love the governor. But it's been two and a half years and two legislative sessions, and I want to be more flexible with my time for my kids and my wife," Alsop told the Gazette Tuesday. "I'm ready to move on."State Revenue Secretary Charlie Lorensen will replace Alsop as Tomblin's chief of staff. Alsop's last day will be May 31."I'm going to stay on to help with the transition," he said. Alsop said he has no immediate job prospects. On Tuesday, he requested an employment exemption from the state Ethics Commission that would allow him to work in the private sector."I think I'm a good problem-solver," Alsop said. "I'm going to look and see what's out there."As Tomblin's chief of staff, Alsop worked closely with state lawmakers and teachers unions to ensure passage of Tomblin's education reform bill earlier this month.Both sides have praised him for his willingness to listen to different viewpoints and develop a compromise bill.
On Monday, Tomblin cited Alsop's "ability to establish common ground.""Without question, Rob is truly one of the hardest working public servants I have ever worked with under the Capitol dome," Tomblin said. "Rob never lost focus during his service, and was a constant reminder of why we are here -- to serve all West Virginians."
Tomblin appointed Alsop chief of staff in November 2010, when Tomblin became acting governor.In addition to the education reform bill, Alsop said he was proud to help the governor reduce the state food tax and develop a plan for funding state employees' pension liabilities. Other accomplishments include public safety measures and new regulations for the natural gas and mining industries, he said.Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said Alsop was "incredibly hard-working and organized" as Tomblin's chief of staff. "Rob Alsop, during his tenure, demonstrated integrity, love of the state of West Virginia, and is one of the most efficient and brightest people I have worked with," Carper said. "I predict a great future for him. He's a good guy."Alsop previously worked as revenue secretary during former Gov. Joe Manchin's administration. Alsop also served as chief of staff to former Sen. Carte Goodwin, who briefly held the seat following the death of longtime Sen. Robert C. Byrd.Lorensen became Tomblin's cabinet secretary of revenue in January 2011. He also serves as state budget director and heads the Retail Liquor Licensing Board.
He previously worked as a tax attorney, and as state tax commissioner under former Gov. Gaston Caperton.Reach Eric Eyre at or 304-348-4869.    
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