Georgian Ayers a contender to replace Trump chief of staff
Nick Ayers, a well-connected Georgia Republican operative who got his start in politics working for Sonny Perdue, has resurfaced as a leading contender for White House chief of staff amid fresh reports that President Donald Trump has soured on his current top aide.
The 36-year-old Mableton native has long been seen as a possible replacement for John Kelly, the retired U.S. Marine Corps general who has feuded often with the president. A fresh wave of speculation emerged Friday.
Trump has told advisers he wanted a more politically savvy deputy after Republicans lost the U.S. House in the November midterms and took a beating in suburban areas across the nation.
As the top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Ayers won Trump’s admiration for insulating his boss from the chaos that’s frequently engulfed the West Wing. A consummate networker, Ayers has also cultivated the support of key Trump family members, including Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
Ayers is known to have political ambitions of his own. His name was briefly floated as a possible Republican gubernatorial contender last year, but he passed on the opportunity after Pence offered him the chance to be his top staffer.
His meteoric political rise began as a teenager, when he took time off from Kennesaw State University in 2002 to serve as the “body man” to Perdue during his first run for governor. Four years later, Ayers ran Perdue’s successful re-election campaign.
He went on to become the youngest-ever head of the Republican Governors Association and then was an adviser to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign.
Afterward, he built a consulting business that was wildly successful in helping a slew of Republicans get elected, including Pence and Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue — but he also drew outside scrutiny for how much it grew in such a short period of time. Should he accept the position as Trump’s third chief of staff, Ayers would be taking one of Washington’s most high-profile yet grueling jobs ahead of a re-election campaign.