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Posted at 11:18 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Ed Gillespie, Nick Ayers to run Republican National Committee transition effort

By Chris Cillizza

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has tasked two veteran party operatives to oversee the transition period following the ouster of former chairman Michael Steele last week.

Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman, will serve as the chairman of the transition effort while Nick Ayers, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, will be transition director, according to sources informed of the personnel moves.

The members of the RNC executive committee will also be members of the transition team; Henry Barbour of Mississippi, Betty Hill of Montana and Steve King of Wisconsin will serve as co-chairs of the transition effort.

"I promised immediate changes along with help from top notch professionals," said Priebus. "I look forward to working with our Executive Committee along with Chairman Gillespie, Nick and other volunteers in order to quickly assemble a great staff and raise the money needed in order for us to compete."

Neither Gillespie nor Ayers will take any compensation for their roles and neither man will stay on at the RNC beyond the transition period.

The move sends a clear signal to Republicans that the committee, which struggled badly under Steele, is working to quickly turn things around under Priebus.

Priebus has already fired several Steele loyalists who had been running the early planning stages of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The biggest task before Gillespie and Ayers as well as Priebus is to begin convincing major donors to reinvest in the RNC. Big dollar contributors walked away from the committee under Steele, one of the main reasons why the RNC currently finds itself more than $20 million in debt.

Both Gillespie and Ayers are well known commodities in the donor world and should be able to begin re-building those bridges. The two men are also well regarded among the main candidates considering presidential bids in 2012 who need a healthy RNC in order to bolster their chances of beating President Obama.

By Chris Cillizza  | January 18, 2011; 11:18 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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