We began filming with David Kensinger when we started the series back in 2001. David‘s boss, Sen. Sam Brownback, was widely seen in 2002 as the key to winning comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. At 30 years old, David was the youngest chief of staff in the US Senate and clearly relished the stressful balancing act between politics and policy. His job, in a nutshell, was to help his boss get his agenda passed while always guarding the Senator‘s prospects for re-election.
We were DC outsiders then and David, a Topeka kid who had become a champion National Debater and then by way of Williams College and Oxford University worked his way up to Chief of Staff for a US Senator, had lots to teach about the “inside baseball” of the Hill. He always had a knack for pulling out the perfect metaphor or anecdote to explain how things get done in D.C. And however strongly he felt about something, he never lost his ability to analyze a political situation objectively, and to our eternal gratitude he was always willing to share his considerable knowledge with us.
About his boss, and their relationship, David told us: “We‘re the good guys, but we‘re the good guys after we crush you... [the Senator‘s] a better man than I am; he‘s the sacred, I‘m the profane, but you‘ve got to have both. I‘m the political guy, the one who says play it safe -- let the big issue that affects lots of people go by the boards. Build your bridges in the next term -- get reelected.”
These days David is the Chief of Staff for Sam Brownback, who is today Governor of the State of Kansas.
For an utterly wonderful portrait of the young David, written just about the time we met him, please see: