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Meadows said to be on short list for Trump chief of staff

The mentioners in the Washington press corps are placing U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows high on the list of potential successors to John Kelly as President Trump's chief of staff.

Meadows, the leader of the conservative Freedom caucus and a resident of Transylvania County, was an early supporter of Trump's nomination in 2016 and remains one of his most ardent supporters in Congress. After Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, turned down the White House job, attention turned to the short list of other possible appointees.

"One of the (White House) officials said Trump is considering four candidates, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a staunch Trump ally," Politico reported. "In recent days, the president has been polling advisers and allies on what they think about Meadows."

"As the president hastily restarted the search process," the New York Times reported, "speculation focused on a group that was led by Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who is the hard-edge chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, but also included the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney; and the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer."

Politico reported that Mnuchin, Mulvaney and Robert Lighthizer had all signaled they'd rather stay in their current jobs, leaving Meadows as the most prominently mentioned candidate who would take the offer. A sandwich shop owner turned real estate developer, Meadows was a political novice when he fought off seven other candidates to win the Republican nomination and cruised to election to the newly redrawn 11th Congressional District seat in 2012. He rose quickly within the conservative Freedom Caucus, becoming its second leader after he filed a procedural motion that helped lead to the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner.

Efforts to reach the congressman were not successful on Monday morning. District director and deputy chief of staff Wayne King said he had no information about a potential job offer from the Trump White House.