Potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty scored a coup yesterday when he announced that he has signed on Nick Ayers to be his campaign manager. Ayers, a deeply religious 28-year old, is the former head of the Republican Governors Association, a group that funneled money into Minnesota’s Future to run negative ads against Mark Dayton during the 2010 gubernatorial election. It’s also Pawlenty second hire who has a record of drunk driving.
Erick Erickson, the prominent conservative blogger at RedState, wrote, “[T]his hire forces me to pay attention to Tim Pawlenty and you should too now. Putting a twenty-something in such a position is a bold and risky move. But Nick Ayers’s track record suggests Pawlenty is suddenly a force to be reckoned with — especially for guys like me who were counting him out before he really got started.”
Ayers most recently ran the Republican Governors Association, a group that spent almost a million dollars attempting to take Dayton down during the 2010 election by funneling money to Minnesota’s Future, an LLC that some allege was designed to mask the source of the funds. That setup generated campaign finance complaints which were eventually dismissed.
In an email announcing his decision to work for Pawlenty, Ayers said that God pointed him in Pawlenty’s direction:
Over the past six months, I have prayed deeply about my purpose in life and how best to utilize the talents God has given me. I wanted my decision to be wholly about how best to serve Him, not what was most politically or financially expedient for my family and me. As He often does in walks of faith, He has called me to a higher purpose. I believe that our Nation is truly on the wrong path. 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. Therefore, I am pleased today to join Governor and Mrs. Pawlenty in their pursuit of the presidency.
Pawlenty’s is not the first campaign for Ayers. In 2006, he ran the campaign for Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue, the first Republican elected to that state’s executive office since Reconstruction. It was during the 2006 campaign that Ayers was arrested of driving under the influence of alcohol.
And it’s not the first of Pawlenty’s staffers to have a rap sheet involving alcohol. Last weekend, Pawlenty staffer Ben Foster was arrested after he drunkenly tried to enter a home he thought was his friend’s but turned out to be in an entirely different Iowa city.