After nearly three years of serving the Governor — first as a Deputy Chief of Staff and then Chief of Staff — Adrian Lukis is leaving the administration, likely in mid-September, with an announcement about the move to come sometime after Labor Day.
The Ron DeSantis administration confirmed Lukis’ plans after Florida Politics first reported his anticipated departure.
“We greatly appreciate Adrian’s leadership, expertise, and service to Floridians. He has been in the administration since the start — first as Deputy Chief of Staff and then as the Chief of Staff for Governor DeSantis, and has held the interests of Floridians at the forefront of what he does every day,” DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement.
“We know great things are in store for him and his family, and look forward to watching his next steps as he continues his incredible career.”
When he was asked to take over for Shane Strum, the Chief of Staff to DeSantis who had served for more than two years, Lukis made clear that his time in the most powerful staff position in state government would not be as long as his predecessor’s.
The father of two young kids, the first of whom was born days after DeSantis was elected Governor in 2018, Lukis made a promise to his wife that he would not be one of those political husbands who missed the formative years of his children’s upbringing.
Six months ago, that promise seemed reasonable. But that was before the state ran headlong into the buzzsaw that is the delta variant.
Lukis had intended to announce his plans for departing sometime in early August. But that was delayed by the realities of the pandemic.
Because Lukis’ personnel move is still so freshly decided, there hasn’t been time for him to decide on his next move. Clearly, a former chief of staff, even one who served a shorter stint than others, will be in high demand by law firms and lobbying shops.
“Adrian is one of the best staff members I have worked with in state government,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson when asked about Lukis’ future after his time in the DeSantis administration. “He facilitated great cooperation between the Governor’s Office and the Senate during his time as chief of staff. He was always professional and honest in his dealings.
One of Lukis’ major accomplishments has been to beef up the operational abilities of the Executive Office of the Governor. He revamped the communications office with the highly respected Fenske as communications director and added two deputy chiefs of staff: education expert Alex Kelly and former Department of Health Chief of Staff Courtney Coppola.
Lukis also led the Governor’s Office through its third — and, arguably, its most consequential — Legislative Session. Lukis also led the Office through a Special Session resulting in the largest gaming deal in the state’s history and response to the recent tragedy in Surfside.
Sources close to the administration also recall Lukis’ central role in the Governor’s environmental accomplishments.
Lukis, the son of prominent lobbyist Syl Lukis, came to the administration from his role as a top adviser to former House Speaker José Oliva. Lukis formerly served as deputy staff director in the Florida House of Representatives and attorney for the House Economic Affairs Committee.
Lukis previously told Florida Politics he developed “an academic interest at a young age” that “developed into a professional passion” for politics.
“I think it also helped growing up in Washington, D.C., and Miami, where politics is difficult to avoid,” Lukis said five years ago when his career began to launch.
Now, as he prepares to leave the Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol, it’s clear Lukis remains on an upward trajectory.
“Adrian has a bright future ahead,” Simpson said.
Among the leading contenders to succeed Lukis are General Counsel James Uthmeier; Dustin Carmack and Justin Roth, both served as Chief of Staff in DeSantis’ congressional office. Also in the mix is Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Kelly.