By Josephine Hearn - 09/29/05 12:00 AM EDT
When John Lawrence took over the top Democratic staff job in the House of Representatives, chief of staff to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Republican strategists may have been disappointed.
A 31-year veteran of the House, the low-key, cerebral Lawrence is unlikely to produce the eyebrow-raising headlines that top Republican staffers have (see Tim Berry’s lavish trip to the Super Bowl, Tony Rudy’s golf outings or Dave Hebert’s tumultuous reign in the whip’s office). He is by his own description a policy guy, a wonky Ph.D. in American history who brings the experience of mark-ups and conference committees to the leader’s office.
And as the longtime top aide to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a lawmaker so attuned to Pelosi that he has been called her alter ego, Lawrence, 56, has been one of the closest staffers to the leader’s office never to have actually worked there.
He is not expected to take the operation in a direction radically different from his predecessor, George Crawford, who left earlier this summer to return to California.
“I wasn’t brought here to shake up or redesign what has been a very successful role that the leader is playing and that her staff is playing,” he noted recently. “I think I was brought here to bring my expertise and contribute to it, but not to reinvent it.”
But people do have high expectations for the soft-spoken Lawrence. Known for decades as “Miller’s guy,” he is bright, articulate and dogged, but at times can be laid back and mischievously droll, colleagues say. Behind an often-placid fa