WASHINGTON -- Nick Ayers, one of the most sought-after operatives in the Republican Party, has signed on to run former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's presidential exploratory committee and likely presidential campaign, a sign the slow-moving GOP race is picking up steam.
Pawlenty got to know Ayers through the Republican Governors Assn., where the latter served as executive director for four years, overseeing a team that raised a record $117 million in the last election cycle.
"He is without question one of the best political talents in America," Pawlenty said in a statement. "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."
The move surprised some in the GOP who expected Ayers to stay at the Republican National Committee, where he recently assisted the transition of newly arrived Chairman Reince Priebus. He also worked closely at the RGA with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour another likely presidential candidate who was the group's chairman until recently.