Monday, January 22, 2018
Politics

Trump picks Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories, according to people involved in Trump's transition effort.

In selecting Priebus, the president-elect would pass over Stephen Bannon, the right-wing media mogul who oversaw his presidential campaign. If Trump had appointed Bannon, a fierce critic of the Republican establishment, it would have demonstrated a continued disdain for a party that Trump fought throughout his campaign.

Trump's choice is certain to anger some of his most conservative supporters, many of whom expect him to battle the Washington establishment over issues like taxes, immigration, trade, health care and the environment. They view Priebus as a deal-maker who will be too eager to push the new president toward compromise.

Priebus is expected to have multiple deputies, including Katie Walsh, the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, who is close to Priebus and helped ensure a tight working relationship between the party's operational infrastructure and Trump's campaign.

Other advisers in Trump's inner circle will also have his ear, including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, who is likely to wield great influence over the new president regardless of whether he holds a formal title. Kushner, who has no experience in politics or government, is often the last person Trump turns to for counsel.

Bannon — the longtime chairman of Breitbart News, a site distinguished by its nationalist, conspiracy-laden coverage — will probably hold a role as a top White House adviser, as well. He is likely to serve as a conduit to the populist right and conservative media outlets.

A onetime Goldman Sachs banker, Bannon has transformed himself into a media figure who favors a scorched-earth style of politics and views the corporate elite and the government establishment with disdain.

Breitbart News regularly traffics in racially charged accusations about President Barack Obama, provocative comparisons between abortion providers and Holocaust killers, and contempt for feminism. Many of its articles tap into a fierce populism not unlike the voter sentiment that helped fuel Trump's victory.

Despite his image as a bomb-thrower, Bannon is also savvy at cutting deals to achieve his goals.

But as chief of staff, Priebus would be the one who has several hundred White House staff members reporting to him. He would be the primary gatekeeper for Trump and the person most responsible for steering the president's agenda through Congress. That role will be especially critical for Trump, who has never served in government and has few connections to important political figures.

The expected selection of Priebus comes at the end of a roller-coaster year for the Republican Party, which saw Trump rewrite many of its policy orthodoxies, clash with its leaders in Congress and denigrate the Bush political dynasty.

As Trump denounced the Republican primary process as rigged and, on occasion, threatened to quit the party and run on his own, Priebus remained neutral. And when Trump secured the nomination, Priebus stood by his side.

Priebus worked with Trump on the nuts and bolts of presidential politics, trying to smooth his rough edges and staying in close contact as a bare-bones campaign prepared to go up against the Clinton machine.

On the surface, the two men could hardly be more different. While Trump, 70, is known for his brashness and at times his viciousness, the much younger Priebus, 44, is regarded for his low profile and humility.

A Wisconsin native and lawyer by training, Priebus has never held elected office. But he served as state treasurer and worked his way up through the Wisconsin Republican Party to become chairman, putting him on the Republican National Committee, where he eventually became general counsel to the chairman at the time, Michael Steele.

Now the longest-serving Republican National Committee chairman, Priebus was elected to the job in 2011, unseating Steele on the promise of modernizing the party and refilling its coffers. With his focus on fundraising and fiscal issues, Priebus let Republican leaders in Congress be the voices of the party during the early part of his tenure. His profile rose as the 2016 election got into gear.

At times, Priebus, whose first name rhymes with "pints," struggled to defend Trump's antics, but he showed his loyalty by supplementing the campaign's resources and by urging Republicans to fall in line behind the candidate in spite of their reservations.

When Trump emerged onstage to give his victory speech early Wednesday, Trump made his appreciation clear, dismissing rumors of tension with Priebus and singing his praises.

"I never had a bad second with him," Trump said. "He's an unbelievable star."

Comments
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON ó Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown wonít slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES ó There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18