Nick Ayers, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, has signed on to run former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential exploratory committee and, most likely, his 2012 campaign. A 2007 Campaigns & Elections Rising Star, the twenty-eight-year-old Ayers was most recently with the Republican National Committee, where he oversaw the transition of newly installed Chairman Reince Priebus.
At the RGA, Ayers worked closely with the association’s former chairman, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and was instrumental in hitting record-setting fundraising targets and helping to win control of eleven governorships last year, while losing only five. At the RGA, Ayers also worked with Pawlenty, who was the organization’s vice chairman during the 2010 election cycle.
“[Ayers’s] 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,” said Pawlenty in a press release.
In a lengthy e-mail to friends announcing his move, Ayers tried to counter the sense that his decision to work for Pawlenty was a rejection of Barbour—or of a number of other potential Republican candidates. “My decision does not mean I think less of Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, or Newt Gingrich should they decide to run, because I do not,” he wrote. (Barbour, for one, has since decided not to run for president.)
Ayers also wrote that he had been tempted to sit out the presidential election in his home state of Georgia and pursue opportunities in the private sector, but upon prayer and reflection, determined that he had been called to reenter politics.
“I believe that our Nation is truly on the wrong path,” he wrote. “We need a new direction that is positive and hopeful. Simply said, we need new leadership. I believe that Governor Pawlenty is best positioned to provide that leadership.”