The man behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has a knack for spectacle, an eye toward making money and a proven willingness to defy the Republican Party.
In other words, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is a lot like his new boss.
Lewandowski, who has been advising Trump since January and managing his improbable — and, for many Republicans, headache-inducing — run to the top of the GOP primary field in national polls has spent the past decade and a half drifting away from the party establishment.
He left a short stint at the Republican National Committee in 2001 to manage the failed reelection campaign of a rogue senator before landing eventually at the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, where he primaried New Hampshire Republicans and mocked the state’s Democrats until joining up with Trump.
In that time, Lewandowski cemented a reputation in New Hampshire political circles for getting things done, even if it means ruffling feathers. “He’s a good guy personally, [but] he’s a bomb thrower,” said one longtime New Hampshire Republican political operative.
“Corey was a pretty aggressive guy on issues. He was a go-getter … and he was not afraid to air out an issue,” said Bruce Berke, a Granite State lobbyist and an adviser to the Republican primary field’s latest entrant, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
He’s also drawn attention for his new Trump-sized paychecks, which would add up to close to a quarter of a million dollars annually.
“Corey has mouths to feed, and a business opportunity to go and make $20,000 a month doesn’t come around every day,” said former state party chairman Fergus Cullen, pointing out that Lewandowski, 40, supports a family of six and lives in a spacious home in Windham, on the Massachusetts border, valued at over $800,000 (that’s a lot for New Hampshire).
The Trump campaign and Lewandowski declined to comment for this story. “Only one guy on the campaign that matters!” texted a spokeswoman.
“He certainly wouldn’t be supporting Donald Trump if he didn’t believe in him,” said Jerry DeLemus, a Republican activist in New Hampshire best known for his support of rogue Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who officially became a Trump supporter over the weekend and called Lewandowski a “really decent man.”
The grandson of a union printer, Lewandowski grew up poor in the 1980s in the hardscrabble mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts, playing pond hockey in the winters and going on to graduate from the city’s branch of the University of Massachusetts.
Drawn to Ronald Reagan’s unabashed work-hard, get-rich version of the American dream, Lewandowski became an active Republican and moved to Washington after graduating. There, he worked on Capitol Hill while earning a master’s degree in political science at American University.
Lewandowski worked briefly for the RNC in 2001, as the legislative political director for the Northeast, before leaving the establishment behind.
His rift with “the country club Republicans,” as he’s known to call them, can be traced to another presidential campaign that ticked off the party.
SOURCE: BEN SCHRECKINGER and CATE MARTEL