Tim Pawlenty lands a presidential campaign manager
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
April 11, 2011
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has signed GOP operative Nick Ayers to serve as his campaign manager, scoring one of the best-regarded young strategists in the party to lead his 2012 presidential effort.
“I’ve chosen to work for the man whose record, principles and vision will give us the strongest Republican nominee, who has the greatest chance of victory in November 2012,” Ayers said in an email to The Fix. “[Pawlenty] is someone who knows what he believes and doesn’t need polls to know how to say it, and he has lived honorably in both his public and private life.”
Ayers, who served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, was courted by at least four other potential presidential candidates. He is currently helping to lead the transition effort at the Republican National Committee under chairman Reince Priebus.
Pawlenty, who worked with Ayers as vice chair of the RGA during the 2010 cycle, called him “one of the best political talents in America,” adding: “His leadership and record of winning tough races in every part of our country will provide even more momentum to our campaign to get America back on track.”
Ayers, who at 28 is among the youngest campaign managers in modern presidential history, will move to Minneapolis and begin in his new role on April 25.
Ayers’ hiring indicates that there is now no doubt that Pawlenty will be in the race for the Republican nomination next year. He formed an exploratory committee to begin raising money for a candidacy late last month.
Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour have been by far the most active in the race for staff talent. (It’s worth noting that Ayers worked under Barbour, who chaired the RGA, during the 2010 election.)
Pawlenty is moving aggressivelyon the staffing front in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Ayers rounds out a team of national strategists that includes former White House political director Sara Taylor, former John McCain presidential campaign manager Terry Nelson, former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, former RGA executive director Phil Musser and former Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant. (For a full look at Pawlenty’s inner circle — done before Ayers’ hire — click here.)
Ayers was one of The Fix’s top six free-agent operatives heading into the 2012 contest.