|Born||James Nicholas Ayers
August 16, 1982
Cobb County, Georgia, U.S.
|Alma mater||Kennesaw State University
James Nicholas "Nick" Ayers is an American political strategist. He currently serves as a partner in Target Enterprises, a strategic media and communications firm based in Los Angeles. Previously, he served as campaign manager for former governor Tim Pawlenty's 2012 Presidential Campaign.
On November 11, 2016 Ayers joined President-elect Donald Trump's Presidential transition team as a Senior Adviser.
Early life and education
Ayers grew up in southern Cobb County, Georgia. Early on, his parents instilled on him a respect for public service, with Ayers later recalling that in 1992, his parents voted for Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot. In the 1990s, Ayers described himself as being rather taken with President Clinton and then-Governor Zell Miller, a Democrat.
Ayers graduated from South Cobb High School in 2000. He then went on to study at Kennesaw State University, where he earned his college degree in 2009. Ayers also studied International and Government Affairs at the University of Surrey at Roehampton in London.
Career in politics
While studying for his undergraduate degree, Ayers joined the College Republicans, becoming president of the school's chapter. During this time, he met Sonny Perdue, who at the time was a Republican state senator, planning to run for Governor. Ayers joined Perdue's campaign, which was successful in unseating Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes. This made Perdue the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.
In 2004, at age 22, he was named manager of Perdue's re-election committee. He was cited as one of the Republican Party's five "fastest rising stars in the nation" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution along with the likes of then-Louisiana Congressman Bobby Jindal. Two years later, the Governor was re-elected by a 20-point margin in an otherwise Democratic year, with Ayers having served as manager for the entire campaign.
Republican Governors Association
In 2007, Ayers assumed a new role as Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. Ayers and his longtime associate from Georgia, Paul Bennecke proposed an unprecedented four-year plan to professionalize the committee's operation and implement a long-range strategy. The goal was to transform the operations of the RGA in preparation for the 2010 midterm elections, when 37 gubernatorial races would be decided. Ayers's plan was accepted by the Governors, and he and Bennecke served through four gubernatorial cycles encompassing all 50 states.
When Ayers began his tenure, the RGA was a relatively spartan operation with a comparatively meager budget of $20 million, and a low national profile. By the time his tenure was over, the Republicans had gained a majority (29) of the country's governorships, and had increased its operating budget to $135 million and the distinction of being the largest political action committee in 2010. This success led to Ayers quickly being labeled as a rising star and a political wunderkind.
In November 2010, Ayers was widely touted as a potential replacement for Michael Steele as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. However, he declined to seek the position, instead accepting a position head of the transition team for Steele's eventual replacement, Reince Priebus. After completing the transition, Ayers joined Target Enterprises, based in Los Angeles, in March 2011.
Tim Pawlenty Presidential Campaign
Shortly after joining Target Enterprises, Ayers took a five month hiatus to serve as the campaign manager for Tim Pawlenty’s presidential bid. After Pawlenty's withdrawal from the race, Ayers returned to Target, resuming his duties as partner.
- Fabian, Jordan (11 April 2011). Pawlenty Taps Campaign Manager., The Hill, Retrieved April 11, 2011
- Silverman, Amanda, He Hasn't Lost Anything Yet, The New Republic, 2 November 2009, http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/he-hasnt-lost-anything-yet
- Howard, Marcus E. (16 August 2010). Cobb native becomes power player in D.C., Marietta Daily Journal, Retrieved November 18, 2010
- Horwitz, Jason (27 April 2010). Young Nick Ayers has full-grown plans for a Republican return to the White House, The Washington Post, Retrieved November 18, 2010
- Silverman, Amanada, He Hasn't Lost Anything Yet, The New Republic, 2 November 2009, http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/he-hasnt-lost-anything-yet
- (26 September 2010). Power Player of the Week: Nick Ayers, Fox News Channel, Retrieved November 18, 2010
- (13 January 2003). Perdue greets the people, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Retrieved November 18, 2010 ("Perdue trusted 19-year-old Nick Ayers to keep him on schedule during the campaign. It was a heady experience for a teenager ...")
- (1 December 2006). Perdue campaign manager to lead RGA, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Retrieved November 18, 2010
- Silverman, Amanada, He Hasn't Lost Anything Yet, The New Republic, 18 May 2011, http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/he-hasnt-lost-anything-yet
- Weiner, Juli (18 November 2010). Is Heartthrob Nick Ayers Man Enough to Replace Michael Steele?, Vanity Fair (magazine), Retrieved November 18, 2010
- Cummings, Jeanne (28 January 2011). http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48327.html, Retrieved January 29, 2011