Vice President-elect Mike Pence has emerged as a key power center in the still-forming administration, after replacing Gov. Chris Christie days after the election as chairman of the transition. His ascent has relieved social conservatives in particular who worried about Trump and Christie’s devotion to their issues.
“I’m trying not to be too giddy tonight,” said Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, a leader of the conservative movement, as he introduced Pence at a D.C. event this week.
Two of Trump’s most prominent early supporters —Giuliani and Christie — remain jobless, as Christie was rejected this week as a potential chair of the Republican Party. But Trump has promoted some early backers, including tapping Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general and Dr. Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Notably, Trump’s most prominent choice of a former critic, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador, also served as an indirect favor to one of his earliest backers. Haley’s nomination, once confirmed, will allow Lt. Gov. Henry McMasters, Trump’s most prominent South Carolina endorser before the primary, to ascend to the governorship.