Georgia 2018: Nick Ayers is not running for governor

Update at 12:40 p.m. Shortly after this story posted, the other shoe dropped: The New York Times reported that Nick Ayers will be Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff.

Nick Ayers, a top adviser to Vice President Mike Pence with ties to many of Georgia’s most prominent politicians, will not enter the race for governor.

Ayers has long been floated as a possible contender for the job, and several influential allies of President Donald Trump encouraged him to run. But he’s decided against joining the crowded field, according to a person with direct knowledge of his thinking.

Ayers, 34, was a protégé of former Gov. Sonny Perdue who later led the Republican Governors Association and helped a string of national GOPers get elected to office. His highest-profile client is Pence – and Ayers remains a deputy to the veep.

He has not spoken publicly about a potential candidacy, but rumors about him jumping into the wide-open race to succeed a term-limited Nathan Deal gained currency in the capitol and in the White House. Politico reported in April that people close to the Trump administration had discussed the impact of an Ayers run.

Ayers’ supporters hoped he would be a fundraising force who would establish himself as the most ardent pro-Trump candidate in the field. But he would have faced challenges breaking out of a pack that includes several high-profile names.

Four Republicans are in the race already: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams. Several others are said to be exploring a run, and Ayers’ decision might open the door to an outsider with no political experience jumping in.

Two Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination: House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans.

More: Who is running for Georgia governor in 2018

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.