New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Taps Ed Gillespie And Nick Ayers To Run Transition Team

Jan 19, 2011 12:57pm

ABC News’s Michael Falcone reports:

Less than a week after taking over as chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus has named two powerful GOP operatives, Ed Gillespie and Nick Ayers, to lead his transition effort.

Gillespie, who served as RNC chairman from 2003-2004, and Ayers, who most recently served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association, will help Priebus navigate a 30-day transition period.

Ayers will serve as transition director and Gillespie, a former counselor to President George W. Bush, will be chairman. Both are veterans of Republican politics.

“When I ran for Chairman of the RNC, I promised to make changes and begin the outreach process with key Republican donors,” Priebus said in a statement on Wednesday. “Today, I am honored to announce the team that will help ensure Republicans have a top-notch ground game in the 2012 election cycle. Together, we will build on our success in 2010 and take back the White House and the United States Senate.”

Priebus also appointed Wisconsin RNC National Committeeman Steve King, Mississippi National Committeeman Henry Barbour and Montana National Committeewoman Betti Hill to RNC’s Executive Committee. Barbour helped orchestrate Priebus' successful campaign for chairman.

The transition effort signals that Priebus is attempting to make good on his promise to clean house at the RNC following his election last week after seven rounds of balloting at the committee’s winter meeting.

Gillespie said that he would focus on helping Priebus “reach out to GOP donors and grassroots in the coming weeks and months." It's a point of particular concern for a party that is staring at debt in the $20 million range and a deflated major donor program.

The new chairman also named a 20-member transition team that includes RNC leaders and committee members from across the country.

Priebus prevailed over the controversial incumbent party chairman, Michael Steele, and defeated four other high-profile contenders last Friday.

“We have to get on track, and together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012 — together unified as a committee,” he said last week. “I want you to know that I am here to earn the trust and support of each and every one of you, and I'm going to start working right now as your chairman.”

 

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