Politics & Government

How a North Texas tea party advocate could end up in the White House

Katrina Pierson, right, talks with delegates on the convention floor during the final day of the Republican National Convention. Pierson recently was spotted at Trump Tower and could be Donald Trump’s press secretary.
Katrina Pierson, right, talks with delegates on the convention floor during the final day of the Republican National Convention. Pierson recently was spotted at Trump Tower and could be Donald Trump’s press secretary. AP

In 2009, Katrina Pierson was one of thousands of disaffected Texans who joined the tea party movement, helping to form a local group in Garland, Texas.

In 2016, buoyed by Donald Trump’s victory, Pierson’s early and vocal support of the president-elect could translate into a high-profile White House job.

Pierson, who was hired by Trump’s campaign as a national spokeswoman in November 2015, is relatively new to conservative politics. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and began her political involvement as a 33-year-old working in the health care industry in 2009.

“I was born with a fire in the belly to do more and be more than society dictated for me,” Pierson said in a 2014 article.

That fire could lead to a gig as White House press secretary.

On Wednesday, Pierson made the rounds in Trump Tower, one of the many Texans floated for a potential position in Trump’s White House. She ignored questions from reporters about her role in the administration.

“I’m at Trump Tower because I work here,” Pierson said in an email to CNN. “I’m a senior adviser for the Trump transition team. Our meetings are confidential.”

But Pierson could be the person Trump taps to be the public face of the White House. During the campaign, Pierson had a constant presence on cable news, defending Trump and sometimes committing high-profile gaffes.

In August, Pierson suggested that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were at fault in Capt. Humayun Khan’s death in 2004 during the Iraq War. Khan’s parents spoke during the Democratic National Convention in support of Clinton, prompting Trump’s ire.

And during an appearance on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” in 2015, Pierson asked, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?”

But Pierson has deftly dealt with setbacks in her nascent political career.

In 2014, she lost her primary challenge of U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions despite having endorsements from tea party groups and Sarah Palin. And during the 2016 cycle, she drew criticism from fellow Texans for her early support of Trump over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Pierson’s assessment of Trump proved to be right, but the president-elect could choose to go in a different direction. Other prominent Trump surrogates during the campaign, notably Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, will not work in the White House.

Two Texans – former Gov. Rick Perry and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson – have been chosen to serve in Trump’s Cabinet. There’s also a chance that Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller could be chosen to lead the Department of Agriculture.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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