Jeff DeWit, the Arizona state treasurer, flew to Phoenix on Air Force One with President Donald Trump for his rally on August 22. DeWit has been a long-time Trump supporter, even serving as the chief operating officer of the Trump Presidential Campaign from July 2016 to November.
DeWit, who is married to Marina DeWit and has three daughters, has been pegged as a possible challenger to Senator Jeff Flake in the Republican primary in 2018. Trump has voiced his displeasure with Flake and reportedly plans to back a political action committee to defeat him.
Here’s what you need to know about DeWit.
1. DeWit Served as Trump’s Campaign CEO After Serving as Arizona Campaign Chairman
DeWit supported Trump throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and was awarded for his loyalty. He first served as Trump’s Arizona campaign chairman. AZCentral reported in July that DeWit was named chief operating officer for Trump’s national campaign.
“As one of the first public officials to endorse Mr. Trump, I am honored to be able to serve his presidential campaign and help him win in November,” DeWit said in a statement released by the Trump campaign. “There is no question that he will make America great again.”
The job had DeWit focusing “on the operational aspects of the campaign including budgetary and logistical matters” and creating “operational efficiencies as the campaign moves into the general election phase.”
DeWit’s critics wondered how DeWit could work for Trump and lead the state treasury.
“My responsibilities as treasurer come first. And my first job is to protect the taxpayers of Arizona. I will fully execute all of the responsibilities — the constitutional responsibilities — as treasurer,” DeWit told the Arizona Republic. “This (campaign job) is something I’m doing in my free time so truly the only part of my life that will suffer is my time with the family for the next three months.”
2. DeWit Took an Unpaid Advisory Role After Trump Won the Election
After Trump beat Hillary Clinton in November, Trump kept DeWit around. During the transition, he took an unpaid position as a special advisor for operations and was seen at Trump Tower in New York.
Again, DeWit had to defend his decision to take another job while still working as Arizona Treasurer. He told the Arizona Republic that his role was “assisting when needed to make sure the transition is running and smoothly and efficiently as possible.”
DeWit told the Republic that many other people in Phoenix have another jobs. Attorney Tom Ryan also told the Republic that there’s nothing forcing DeWit to work 40 hours a week as treasurer.
After Trump’s inauguration, DeWit didn’t take a job in the administration. However, he told the Arizona Republic in April 2016 that he wouldn’t run for re-election. At the time, he was planning to return to the private sector.
“I’ve been very open about the fact that I don’t plan to seek re-election at all. I wanted to do a very good four years down here and, you know, there was always a part of me that wondered if I would stay a second term … but at the same time, I never want to become a life-long politician. They seem to catch some sort of disease, and I never want to catch that disease,” DeWit said in April 2016.
3. Trump Is Reportedly Leaning to Endorse DeWit as Senator
“…He was very motivated to take out Senator Flake at that particular time to the point where he stated clearly – I don’t know who actually reported this to Politico,” Graham, who is close to DeWit, told NPR. “But the $10 million comment that he would put 10 million of his own money into a PAC to take out Senator Flake – I can tell you verifiably that that’s true.”
Arizona Republican sources told the Washington Times on August 16 that Trump was leaning towards endorsing DeWit to run against Flake. If that happens, it will be bad news for Kelli Ward, who ran an unsuccessful primary challenge against Senator John McCain in 2016.
In March, the Arizona Capitol Times reported that Ward claimed DeWit told her he wouldn’t run if she did, but there was no confirmation from DeWit’s office.
4. DeWit Was a Stockbroker Before Running for Arizona Treasurer
Before running for Arizona Treasurer in 2014, DeWit had never held public office. He worked as a stockbroker at the Chicago Board of Trade, then started his own company in 1999. He was the CEO of ECHOtrade, which was based in Phoenix, until he sold the company to avoid conflicts of interest.
According to his website, he began his career with Smith Barney in 1993 and rose to become its youngest fully-licensed Investment Professional. He also became a Market Maker and was a full member of the CME.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and his Masters at the University of Arizona, according to his LinkedIn page.
5. DeWit Endorsed Trump Back in July 2015, When They Met After Trump’s First Campaign Stop in Phoenix
DeWit first met Trump after his July 2015 campaign rally in Phoenix and has supported him since then, The Phoenix New Times reports. Trump reportedly told DeWit that he should run against McCain in 2016, but DeWit decided not to.
“My whole sales pitch [to Trump] was, ‘Who do you trust your hard-earned nest egg to? Do you trust it to a seasoned professional of 23 years, or do you trust it to a longtime politician?'” DeWit told the New Times. “Seeing how well that message resonated across the state, it had me convinced that Donald Trump could do very well with a similar message.”
In the New Times interview, which was conducted in May, DeWit correctly predicted that Trump would win in November.
“I hope people listen to me this time,” he said at the time. “Because I’ve been saying for 10 months now that Trump’s gonna win, even when there were 17 people in the race.”
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