Report: Trump aides 'coalescing' around Georgia operative to lead RNC

Nick Ayers in November 2016. AP file

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Nick Ayers in November 2016. AP file

Georgia Republican strategist Nick Ayers might be in pole position for one of the biggest GOP positions on the planet: The Republican National Committee chair.

Multiple media outlets reported late Friday he's considered a top contender to replace Reince Priebus, tapped by Donald Trump to be his chief of staff. The New York Times reported Friday that team Trump appeared to be "coalescing" around Ayers, now a top aide to Mike Pence.

If so, it would be another step in the remarkable rise of a 34-year-old Cobb native and campaign wunderkind. Ayers, who married a cousin of Sonny Perdue, managed the Republican's 2006 reelection campaign in his 20s after his stunning upset victory over Roy Barnes.

He next led the Republican Governors Association, dramatically increasing the GOP grip on statehouses, before heading then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign.

This isn't the first time he's been pegged as a potential head of the party. He was seen as a potential successor to RNC chief Michael Steele in November 2010 but eventually helped recruit Priebus - and steered his transition team.

He's since worked as a strategist for Target Enterprises and helped with the campaigns of Sen. David Perdue and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner before becoming a Pence deputy.

The move would increase the Georgia GOP's clout in the national party, particularly for the passel of Perdue allies now scattered in top positions.

Paul Bennecke, another Perdue stalwart, now runs the governors association. John Watson, the former chief of staff to Sonny Perdue, is eyeing a run to lead the Georgia GOP.

Alec Poitevint, a Bainbridge businessman at the center of the Perdue orbit, is close with Priebus.

Many other Perdue alum work for David Perdue, who has an appointment in Trump Tower today, or have ties to the incoming Trump administration.

And Sonny Perdue met with the president-elect earlier this week to audition for agriculture secretary.