It’s Reince Priebus as chief of staff.
President-elect Donald Trump is on a roll. Since he was elected, he (1) gave a humble, even “presidential” victory speech, (2) resisted (mostly) the urge to dance on graves, (3) had a cordial, even useful, series of meetings with President Obama and Congressional leaders, and now (4) made a great choice for his chief of staff.
Priebus rolled the dice on Trump, with his career on the line. If Trump had lost, that would likely have been “it” for the RNC chairman. Either way in this election, Priebus was on his way out of a job–into the administration, or a pink slip.
But the Wisconsin lawyer doesn’t play for long odds. He had been preparing the RNC for this kind of campaign since 2011. Building data products, fundraising capabilities, and GOTV operations at the national party level, Priebus took to heart the lessons of Obama’s 2008 and 2012 victories, and brought many of those lessons in to the party versus leaving them to campaigns.
Suffering broad criticism from conservatives for tacking away from an issues-based approach and focusing on the nuts and bolts of “the boring stuff,” Priebus weathered those storms, only to face a cyclone in 2016. Dispensing with party tradition, he personally appointed Enid Mickelsen, the RNC National Committeewoman from Utah, to head the Rules Committee for the convention in Cleveland.
Mickelsen, working with Priebus and party operatives, helped shut down debate on a rules package which would have forced a floor vote and a potential delegate rebellion to oust Trump, who had won enough pledged delegates to win the nomination. For those in the Never Trump camp, this irretrievably put Priebus on the Trump Train. Whatever became Trump’s fate, would become the RNC chairman’s fate.
But it worked out for both of them.
Trump ran one of the leanest, party-dependent campaigns a presidential candidate has ever run in the modern political era. Of course, Trump had his own unique assets, which certainly helped. But Priebus stuck with Trump, crafting a joint fundraising platform where the party kept 20 percent of all funds raised for the presidential campaign. Trump’s win validated Priebus’s work and has now paid off with one of the most influential White House jobs–within shouting distance of the Oval Office.
Now to the victor go the spoils. Trump could not have made a better choice for chief of staff–a man trusted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, well regarded in general by Republican rank and file, and not given to wild invective in the press.
Fox News reported that it’s expected that Steve Bannon will be appointed as a senior counselor to the president. Bannon is still officially the CEO of Trump propaganda outlet Breitbart News. Now that Trump will be CEO of America, it’s unlikely Bannon will get his dream of Trump TV chief. But a White House job is more than compensation for his loyalty.
Now we only need to figure out where Corey Lewandowski will end up. Press Secretary, anyone?