Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is integrating his coterie of longtime political advisers with Donald Trump's campaign as he begins campaigning as the Republican vice-presidential candidate.
The Trump campaign plans to announce Saturday evening that Pence will start traveling as Trump's running mate with his own team of professional operatives led by Nick Ayers, a well-connected strategist who had been serving as Pence's main consultant in his gubernatorial reelection campaign.
Ayers, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, managed former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty's 2012 presidential campaign and has steered a number of statewide races, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's 2014 campaign. Ayers also has ties to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, helping lead Priebus's transition team when he assumed control of the party committee in 2011.
Pence's vice-presidential campaign staff members will be rounded out by several other loyal aides, chief among them Marty Obst, his longtime finance director and gubernatorial campaign manager. Obst will oversee Pence's day-to-day campaign as manager of vice-presidential operations.
Josh Pitcock, who has run Indiana's office in Washington and is close to Pence, is taking a leave of absence from his role as the state government's federal representative to serve as Pence's policy director.
Marc Short, a longtime Pence confidant, will join the Trump campaign as Pence's communications adviser. Short was Pence's chief of staff when he served in Congress and later ran the Koch brothers' powerful political network. He left the Koch orbit earlier this year to advise in the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).
Also working on communications is Marc Lotter, a longtime Indiana operative who had been Pence's deputy campaign manager. He will serve as the vice-presidential candidate's press secretary.
Helping to bridge the Pence and Trump teams will be Kellyanne Conway, a veteran pollster and adviser to Pence who had been working on Trump's campaign. Conway will help guide the campaign's overall strategy as well as serve as a regular counselor to Pence.
"The campaign welcomes the addition of Governor Pence and his team of advisors to the ticket," campaign chairman Paul Manafort said in a statement. "Governor Pence is a man of impeccable character, and his addition to the ticket sends a powerful message to Hillary Clinton that America is not for sale. We look forward to meeting with voters across the country and, together, we will Make America Great Again."
The Pence team could help Trump build his big-dollar fundraising operation, which has been relatively slow to grow to scale since Trump did not actively raise money during the primaries. Ayers, Obst and Short in particular have close and long-established relationships with many top Republican donors.
Unlike in 2012, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had the vice-presidential campaign staff largely assembled before he selected his running mate — a team Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) inherited — Pence has had considerable sway in determining the makeup of his staff.
In recent weeks, as Trump's vice-presidential selection process kicked into gear, Ayers developed close ties with Manafort and earned his confidence.
Ayers has decided to follow Manafort's lead in working for the campaign for no pay, while the rest of Pence's team will be paid staff members. Serving as a volunteer helped Manafort gain Trump's trust and respect this spring when he fought internally with other senior aides.