On the same sweltering summer day as President Donald Trump replaced his top aide with a no-nonsense retired Marine general, Vice President Mike Pence had a quieter swearing-in ceremony for his new right-hand man: Georgia operative Nick Ayers.
Ayers, 34, had worked for Pence for three years and was his chief political strategist when Trump chose the Indiana governor as his running mate. From his office in suburban Atlanta he also helped lead America First Policies, a super PAC supporting the White House.
The promotion meant that he won’t be joining the crowded field running for Georgia governor. Ayers had long been floated as a possible contender for the job, and several influential allies of President Donald Trump’s in Georgia had encouraged him to run.
Shortly after his swearing-in ceremony on Friday, Ayers offered encouragement to the other new chief-of-staff in the Trump administration – John Kelly, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security tasked with imposing order in a chaotic White House.
Ayers got his start in politics as a protégé of Sonny Perdue, and he managed Perdue’s successful re-election campaign for governor in 2006. He was head of the Republican Governors Association for four years and was a contender to lead the Republican National Committee.
The Georgian has gotten off to a quick start in his new role. Aboard Air Force Two on Sunday, Ayers announced his top deputy would be Jarrod Agen, Pence’s communications chief.