RICHMOND — The governor’s right-hand man is leaving the job, but not the family.
For three years, Adam Zubowsky essentially has been tethered to Gov. Bob McDonnell, seen by his side virtually any time the governor steps foot out of the office.
He was technically the director of operations but was more commonly referred to as the “body man.” He’s the aide constantly near, holding papers, handling things people give the governor at events, arranging logistics on the fly and mainly trying to keep him on schedule.
Martin Kent is the governor’s chief of staff, but Zubowsky, 28, is affectionately called his “chief of stuff.”
It can be a round-the-clock, multiday-at-a-time job. He times his vacations with gubernatorial getaways.
“I never had a sick day — thank God,” Zubowsky said in an interview last week while the governor was in a meeting. His last day was Tuesday.
McDonnell praised Zubowsky’s ability to juggle the often-unpredictable demands of the job.
“He is a remarkable young man, mature and organized and disciplined and effective beyond his years,” McDonnell said. “On a personal note, he’s just a heck of a good guy.”
Zubowsky, who was born and raised in Henrico County, took a circuitous route to the job. After graduating from Louisiana State University, he did legislative work for the National Fraternal Order of Police in Washington and then on the 2008 re-election campaign of Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-10th.
He stayed in Northern Virginia and early the following year began working as the field director in Fairfax County for McDonnell’s gubernatorial bid. Just days after McDonnell’s victory, he moved to Richmond to be his body man.
“I really wanted this role because I didn’t want a 9-to-5. … I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. I really wanted to still be out there with people, faces, and so this was the perfect role,” he said.
He has logged many miles crossing the state with McDonnell, seeing some of its most remote nooks. The job also has come with special access. He has crossed paths with Donald Trump, Garth Brooks, Steven Spielberg and countless GOP governors.
But a new job with a slower pace means he’ll get to spend more time with a different McDonnell — Jeanine, the governor’s eldest daughter, to whom Zubowsky is engaged.
They met on the governor’s campaign, but Zubowsky said they didn’t begin to date until about 10 months after McDonnell’s January 2010 inauguration.
Zubowsky asked McDonnell for his blessing before he proposed to Jeanine in December. He had one thing on his side as a scheduler — he could pinpoint the best time to get the governor’s attention in a jumble of deadlines, meetings and trips.
McDonnell said he adjusted after the engagement to the fact that Zubowsky “was wearing two important hats in my life.”
“So we couldn’t be more happy for them,” he said.
Zubowsky starts his new job in government relations for Smithfield Foods before the year’s end. He and Jeanine live in Virginia Beach and are planning a wedding for early 2013.
“Being engaged,” Zubowsky said, “it will be nice to go from 100 miles an hour — I could never go down to 25 — but if you take me down to 60, you know, that’s perfectly fine.”