A Young Karl Rove?

I somehow missed this last week, but the Atlanta Business Chronicle had this look at Nick Ayers:

Ayers, 23, has become one of the GOP’s rising stars, overcoming the stigma of youth and parlaying his role as an adviser, assistant and jack-of-all-trades during Perdue’s first run into a series of successes as the governor’s political strategist.

He helped engineer the historic Republican takeover of the Georgia House of Representatives in 2004 and propelled the party’s Karen Handel to the top of the traditionally Democratic Fulton County Commission in 2003.

He has been called a younger version of Bush strategist Karl Rove, and he’s on a first-name basis with Fortune 500 CEOs, well-to-do donors and U.S. congressmen.



  1. Nice article…but the Fulton County Commission is “traditionally Democratic?” Mike Kenn (R) was chairman from 1999-2003 and before that Mitch Skandalakis chaired it from 1991-1999.

    Kenn resigned right after he barely won the general election against an unfunded Democratic opponent. Kenn was an incumbent, and in an open seat the Fulton commission is unlikely to stay Republican — as long as the election is on the same day as the governor’s race or Presidential election.

    Handel ran in a low turnout special election against a bad field of Democratic candidates. In addition, Perdue scheduled the election the same day as Roswell and Alpharetta (Republican cities) had municipal elections while there was hardly any reason for Atlanta and South Fulton to turn out.

    Now certainly the timing of the resignation for Kenn and the date of the special election by Perdue were impressive, and Ayers might have had something to do with that. But the true test of a political genius will come when that genius does not control the reigns of power and instead has to outwit better funded opposition. True — Sonny’s team already won once like this in 2002, and to the victor go the spoils. But I’ll wait for continuous Republican victories in Georgia starting in 2010 and beyond before I think about crowning the next Rove (who lets not forget had a lot to do with Georgia victories since 2000 himself).

  2. Beth says:

    Nick is a very talented guy. If you look back at Handel’s race, it was an impressive victory. Handel took 56% of the vote in a crowded field. It really should have been a run-off.

  3. debbie0040 says:

    I agree with your sentiments chrishardcore. The 2002 unseating of Roy Barnes happened because of grassroots and intense anger by several groups at Roy Barnes. Everything just came together at the right time. Ayers will face a test if Cox wins the Democratic Nomination, but the true test will come when he tries to unseat an incumbant Democrat.

    A lot of the grassroots activists see Ayers as cocky and arrogant and that could pose problems in the future.

  4. law303peachtreeroad says:

    Nick is a close friend and a bright political mind. To criticize his exposure is tright. I think there may be a little jealousy within this crowd of bloggers. Cocky and arrogant he is not, capable and bright he is.

  5. pathfinder says:

    “A lot of the grassroots activists see Ayers as cocky and arrogant . . . .” Those of us over 40 always look upon bright, talented and ambitious 20 somethings as cocky and arrogant. It makes us feel better about ourselves when we look in the mirror and see the extra pounds and age lines.

  6. debbie0040 says:

    I am over 40, pathfinder so you may be correct and most that have expressed the same sentiment as I have are over 40. Different people have different perceptions of the same person.

    I have never said Nick was not bright or talented. I just don’t think you can give Nick and company complete credit for the 2002 election. There were other factors that contributed to Gov. Perdue being elected.

  7. Jimbo says:

    I am thirty something and I am of the opinion that Ayers is arrogant and egotistical. He is very smart, I will admit that.

    I think his arrogance turns off the older activists.

  8. buzzbrockway says:

    Why all the hatin’ on Nick? When you’re a part of winning campaigns, your star rises. Nick has been a part of winning campaigns and deserves the good press he’s getting.

    There are plenty of people active in the GOP who have big long resumes but haven’t been on the winning side in their entire political careers (except for Presidential elections), yet I’ve seen more arrogance from some of those people than I’ve ever seen from Nick Ayres.

  9. Rusty Paw says:


    “There are plenty of people active in the GOP who have big long resumes but haven’t been on the winning side in their entire political careers (except for Presidential elections)”

    That sounds a lot like a Lt. Gov. candidate…

  10. Jimbo says:

    I really don’t see any hating on this site as you call it, Buzz. It could be that arrogance that helps makes him successful.

    No one has said he did not deserve the good press either.

    I do believe he was not totally responsible for the 2002 election.

    But to compare him to Karl Rove? Come on that is a stretch.

  11. Jimbo says:

    Rusty Paw, you Cagle supporters will always find a way to slam Reed. If I am not mistaken, Skandalakis DID win the primary.

    W must have thought Reed could win elections. Why else would he make him Southeastern Regional Chairman of the Bush Campaign? Florida was part of that region and was vital in 2000.

  12. George Allen 08 says:

    Who wouldn’t be a little cocky if they had achieved that much at age 23? It’s to be expected.

  13. Brian from Ellijay says:

    Nicks a good friend, I have been on most of those campaigns he has. He is quick to the punch but reserved in what he says. Nick undersands the use of money, but does not cast off the use of grassroots. Nicks an asset. Unlike some of the folks under him who were no where to be found in 2002.

  14. bowersville says:

    I once heard a very young Chip Carter make the statement that “Daddy is running for President.” I viewed that as arrogant, but once I saw how things began to unfold, I viewed it as confidence. Keep your stance!

  15. Bull Moose says:

    There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance and I do not think that this young man has tripped over that line. Give him a break. He’s 23 years old and doing quite a bit.

    Note to Nick, beware of burnout.

    It will strike when you least expect it. Then, this game called politics turns into something that will weigh you down and make you resent it.

    Arrogance is what happened to Roy Barnes and Bobby Kahn in 2002.

  16. McCain-Rice\'08 says:

    I have met Nick many times, and I’ll agree he has a bright future in politics..but so does Paul Beneke. However, I dont think they are “young Karl Roves”, they havent devised enguenius plans…and why would you want to be labled a “young Karl Rove” any way, thats almost as bad as being called a “young Ralph Reed”…don’t insult Nick like that.

  17. Brian from Ellijay says:

    PS-I never claimed to be an english major. 😉 Typing is something I do first, then, sometimes regrettably, I do not see the errors until the post.

  18. Philly says:

    I tend to agree that Nick does have some degree of arrogance about him. He sometimes acts like a “diva.”
    He is smart but received too much credit for the 2002 election. He has made smart moves since then.

    If he beats Cathy Cox, he will have impressed me but still has a long way to go before he is worthy of being called the next Karl Rove.

  19. Dan says:

    Nick’s a really nice guy and is pretty sincere in his desire to see positive change. I can understand how some would say that he’s arrogant and cocky, but I’ve known several people who seem that way but actually aren’t, and I think Nick may fall into that category. Even if he is, the one thing that he does have going for him is that Sonny Perdue trusts him, and his trust is not something that the Sonny throws around lightly.

  20. shep1975 says:

    Nick is 23. I defy any of us to claim we weren’t a bit big headed and smug at that age and I doubt many of us had achieved as much as Nick. At 23, I worked for Speaker Gingrich and was an arrogent SOB. Nick is more mature than I was at that age. I do agree though, Nick is not a “young Karl Rove.” He’s Nick Ayers…that is worth a lot in itself.

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