Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has already announced the formation of an exploratory committee, announced that he has hired former Republican Governor’s Association director Nick Ayers to manage his potential presidential campaign.
Politics is like NASCAR, and a crew chief is essential to any NASCAR operation. Jimmie Johnson could not have won five straight NASCAR titles without his crew chief Chad Knaus. When Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to own racing team, Stewart-Haas racing, the first thing he did was hire an ace crew chief in Darian Grubb.
Pawlenty has amassed the best pit crew out of any of the potential candidates to date, but was lacking that crew chief until he hired Ayers.
In a press release, Pawlenty said, “Mary and I worked alongside Nick at the RGA. He is without question one of the best political talents in America. We are very excited Nick will lead our team. His leadership and record of winning tough races in every part of our country will provide even more momentum to our campaign to get America back on track.”
Team Pawlenty describes Ayers’ credentials thusly:
Ayers has one of the strongest political resumes in American politics with an unparalleled record of success. Starting in 2007, he led the effort to draft and implement a four-year political plan that turned the RGA into a political juggernaut that led to historic gubernatorial gains in critical presidential swing states. In 2010 alone, the RGA shattered all previous fundraising records, and Ayers managed a $112 million budget, deploying $102 million directly into independent expenditures and campaigns.
And Pawlenty senior strategist Phil Musser, according to the release, said, “Nick has proven his incredible talent in the political arena many times over. He has also long been our top choice for this job, and we are thrilled he has agreed to lead this campaign. He’s a man of character, faith and integrity who will take this organization to the next level, and hopefully to the nomination of the Republican Party.”
In helping elect Governors Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell in New Jersey and Virginia, respectively, Ayers and the RGA began the Republican comeback when conventional wisdom was wondering if the GOP would go the way of the Whigs in the age of Obama. During the 2010 cycle, the RGA helped elect a star-studded Republican governor class in 2012 that helped paint the Midwest red with the election of governors such as John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Further, the RGA provided the infrastructure to elect Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, Susanna Martinez in New Mexico, and Brian Sandoval in New Mexico, providing the GOP with gender and racial diversity in addition to dynamic and competent governors.
According to Team Pawlenty, Ayers will re-locate to Minneapolis and start on April 25.
In signing arguably the most sought after free agent of the 2012 cycle in Ayers, Pawlenty’s candidacy became more professional, formidable, and threatening.