Hutchinson hires new presidential campaign manager

WASHINGTON -- Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named a longtime associate as the new manager of his presidential campaign.

Hutchinson on Wednesday announced the selection of Alison Williams as campaign manager. Williams replaces Rob Burgess, who left the campaign onTuesday as part of what Hutchinson described as a "mutual agreement" between the two parties.

Burgess had served as campaign manager since Hutchinson launched his White House bid in April.

Williams' political experience has considerable ties to Hutchinson's resume. She worked for Hutchinson during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives member, and followed Hutchinson to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security amid President George W. Bush's tenure.

During the first months of Hutchinson's governorship, Williams served as his director of state-federal relations. She became Hutchinson's chief of staff in 2016 and remained with the administration through the remainder of his time as governor.

"Alison's unparalleled experience, her dedication to public service, and her deep understanding of the political landscape make her the perfect choice to lead our campaign," Hutchinson said Wednesday in a release.

"She has been an invaluable advisor and a trusted colleague for many years, and I am confident that with her at the helm, our campaign is poised for success." In an email to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Williams expressed enthusiasm toward rejoining Hutchinson and supporting "his consistent conservatism." "Having worked together for nearly 25 years and serving as his chief of staff for most of his tenure as governor, I know, and most Arkansans know, how trans-formative his vision for our state was," she added. "Taking that vision nationally is a role I embrace wholeheartedly." The change comes as Hutchinson remains committed to his White House c a m pa i g n . The former governor has filed paperwork to place his name on the primary ballots in New H a m p s h i re and Florida. He said Wednesday he will additionally be in the Iowa caucus.

One contest in which he is not participating is the South Carolina primary. Hutchinson -- an alumnus of Bob Jones University, a private institution in Greenville, S.C. -- saidWednesday he did not file to get on the ballot given the current makeup of the GOP field, including two opponents from South Carolina, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Halley.

Hutchinson has struggled to increase his exposure, unable to move past 1% in national and early state polls. While he qualified for the first presidential debate in August, he failed to make the second debate stage in September. He acknowledged to the Democrat-Gazette on Saturday the likelihood he will not make the next presidential debate scheduled for Nov. 8 in Miami.

"They've become of diminishing importance," he said. "The first debate had the largest audience, which I was on. Since then, I think people have been disappointed with the lack of serious policy discussion in those debates." During the conversation, Hutchinson recognized his campaign faces an uphill battle in pursuing the Republican nomination, yet his determination remains intact.

"It's unpredictable what's going to happen in the coming months," he said. "You don't win by punting on third down or quitting early. You stay in there, and while it's uphill, I see the opportunities in this campaign and the positive response I continue to get." The field for the Republican nomination has shrunk with candidates dropping out. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, business leader Perry Johnson and talk show host Larry Elder ended their campaigns in October, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez suspended his campaign in August.