Nick Ayers is the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and the frontrunner to replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. NBC News reported that Kelly may soon depart the White House amid clashes with First Lady Melania Trump.
NBC reported that Melania Trump has already all but forced out deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel after several spats over logistics. The network reports that Kelly has also “gotten on the wrong side of Melania,” citing staffing issues and travel requests. Numerous sources told NBC that the disputes reached President Donald Trump’s desk. Two White House officials told the network that Kelly repeatedly rejected her requests to promote several of her staffers while promoting his own.
“I don’t need this s**t,” Trump told Kelly after one of the disputes, according to an NBC source.
Kelly has also clashed with new national security adviser John Bolton and has pushed back at administration attempts to replace Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, his protege. He has also had tensions with first daughter Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both of whom want Trump to replace Kelly.
Ayers has been developing a relationship with Trump for months, NBC reported, and sources close to Trump said that he is the most likely candidate to replace Kelly, who they expect to depart before the end of the year.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nick Ayers Has Been in Politics Since He Joined the College Republicans
Ayers grew up in Cobb County, Georgia, The New Republic reported. He told the outlet that he was drawn to Democrats like Bill Clinton growing up but after enrolling in Kennesaw State University, he joined the College Republicans and soon became president of the school chapter.
While heading the group, Ayers met Sonny Perdue (who also now works in the Trump administration as Agriculture Secretary) during his run for governor of Georgia. Ayers was a body man for Perdue, who was then a state Senator. Perdue won that election, becoming the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
“When we won, I had the option of basically being the senior adviser to a governor or a freshman in college,” Ayers later told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I chose the gubernatorial post.”
By age 22, he was appointed to manage Perdue’s re-election campaign and led the governor to a 20-point win.
2. Nick Ayers Saw Great Success Leading The Republican Governors Association
In 2007, Perdue was elected to serve as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association and appointed Ayers as the Executive Director. Ayers and longtime colleague Paul Bennecke drew up a 50-state, four-year plan that led to 29 Republican governors being elected by 2010, Politico reported.
After a slew of big victories in the 2010 midterms, Ayers, who was then still just 28, was considered a frontrunner to become the new Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Vanity Fair reported. Instead of running, he effectively endorsed and campaigned for Reince Priebus, then the RNC’s Treasurer, helping him land the job.
In 2011, Ayers went to work for Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s ill-fated presidential bid, The Hill reported. Pawlenty withdrew after the Iowa caucus.
In 2013, Ayers worked for Bruce Rauner, the millionaire Republican who went on to win the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race, HuffPost reported, before going on to run the gubernatorial campaign of Eric Greitens in Missouri, which he also won.
In 2016, he went to work as a strategist for then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence before following him to the Trump campaign when he was tabbed as the running mate.
3. Nick Ayers Was Key Figure During 2016 Campaign
Ayers was named the head of the Pence for Vice President campaign and helped prepare for the Republican National Convention and the Vice Presidential Debate. After Trump’s win, Ayers was named as a senior adviser to the Presidential Transition, HuffPost reported.
Ayers was considered a frontrunner to be the next RNC Chairman once again but ultimately went on to found the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Priorities. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Ayers was key in the appointed of Perdue to be the Agriculture Secretary and fellow Georgia Tom Price to be the Health and Human Services Secretary.
In June of 2017, Ayers was appointed Pence’s chief of staff.
4. Nick Ayers Has Become a Trump Loyalist Since Election
“Nick’s there to protect the Vice-President because the Vice-President can’t believe what the f**k is going on,” former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told The New Yorker earlier this year. HuffPost reported that Ayers ingratiated himself to Jared Kushner and the Trump sons and later Kelly, before ultimately landing on Trump’s good side.
Though HuffPost reports that Ayers was reluctant to join the administration and lobbied for the RNC job instead, he soon echoed the rhetoric of the president’s most ardent defenders.
Politico reported that earlier this year, Ayers told Republican donors that the party should oppose Republican lawmakers who don’t back the president.
“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,” he said in October. “I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this. But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, No. 1. And No. 2, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
5. Nick Ayers’ Net Worth Is As High As $54 Million
When Ayers joined the Trump administration, he reported a personal net worth between $12 million and $54 million, HuffPost reported, adding that the average top-level consultant earns about $1 million in an election year). Ayers made his money from his work at Target Enterprises, a political strategy firm, before founding C5 Creative Consulting and forming his own firm. According to HuffPost, he did not initially sell his company when he joined the White House. The outlet added that “he is not shy about showing his wealth—issuing gracious invitations to hunting parties on his estate on Georgia’s Flint River; sending Christmas cards that are fatter than most and wrapped in a bow. He has occasionally been known to lease a private jet—unusual among a crowd of strategists-for-hire who are accustomed to Marriotts and economy class.”
HuffPost reports that Ayers has a $2.3 million home in the Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, where he lives with his wife Jamie Floyd, Perdue’s second cousin, and their 6-year-old triplets, Charles, Mary Floyd, and Talton.