That Donald Trump tapped RNC chairman Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff may come as no surprise to many, given the lengthy list of plaudits he’s acquired over the past two decades as a rising star in the mainstream conservative wing of his Republican Party.

Priebus helped introduce Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker to a national audience before leading the charge on fund raising and party coalescence with the Trump-Pence campaign.

Here are five things to know about the next White House chief of staff:

1. His political ambition was on display early

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Priebus, who hails from working-class Wisconsin, became enamored with the political process early when in high school he volunteered for several political campaigns.

Then as an undergraduate, when he became president of the College Republicans in addition to the student body president at University of Wisconsin–Whitewater as a Poli Sci major. After clerking for the Wisconsin State Assembly Education Committee, he would again be announced president of Miami’s law school while working through his J.D. — although his time in private law was short, with public office being his apparent aim.

In 2008, “Wisconsin Super Lawyers named Priebus one of the state’s “Rising Stars” as an informal introduction to the national stage.

2. He lost his Wisconsin state Senate bid

In 2004, Priebus lost his only election bid. It was for the the Wisconsin state Senate to his Democratic opponent. However in 2007, he became the youngest man to become the chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

He found a niche in fundraising, hauled in massive money and effectively led the Republicans to resounding wins in 2010, including for Gov. Scott Walker.

That led to his position as general counsel to the Republican National Committee, and eventually replacing Michael Steele as its chairman.

3. He’s been a rockstar for the Republican National Committee


Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Steele left a massive deficit for the RNC, rubbing major donors the wrong way and costing the RNC the amount of funding required to put up a resistance to the new grassroots style of the Obama campaign that found millions of small donations helping to create a sizable war chest.

“A couple years ago when the RNC nearly went bankrupt, I knew someone had to step in and do a whole ton of work to fix it. But I didn’t think it would be me,” Preibus told

4. He steered the Romney campaign in the 2012 elections

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“The president does a good job of making our job easier. When you can’t fulfill your mission and can’t live your own rhetoric, it makes an easier case that Barack Obama needs to be fired in order to save the country,” Priebus said at the time. He became active in creating talking points that magnified President Obama’s shortcomings, hoping to help keep the focus on his shortcomings and prevent a re-election.

It wouldn’t work. Following the big Romeny loss, Priebus led efforts on the Republican Party autopsy to see where voter outreach was amiss, effectively authoring “The Growth and Opportunity Project.”

5. He’s bridged the far-right and mainstream conservatives

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, file photo, President-elect Donald Trump, center, stands with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus during an election night rally in New York. Trump on Sunday named Priebus as his White House chief of staff. (AP Photo/John Locher)

President-elect Donald Trump, center, stands with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus during an election night rally in New York.  (AP Photo/John Locher)

While the Republican autopsy was set up to create a sort of playbook in the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential elections, the nomination of Donald Trump changed all of that. Prior to that, Priebus had experience in getting the Tea Party movement to work with the Republicans, and avoid a conflict or splitting of the conservative movement.

That became another part of his job when Trump began working with Priebus on the 2016 campaign trail. He denied efforts by the “Never Trump” movement — including Romney — to hijack the narrative and take away promise of Republicans coalescing around the mercurial businessman, preaching party unity wherever he went.

Pries said a third-party candidate would be “tantamount to a suicide mission,” and worked to quash dissent among the delegations responsible for nominating Trump.

His efforts were rewarded big league — the rising star is now chief of staff for the most powerful office in Washington.