Five potential candidates to replace Hope Hicks

Five potential candidates to replace Hope Hicks
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The announced departure of White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksWhite House race to replace Hope Hicks has two lead contenders Hicks almost left WH months before she announced her resignation: report Kelly tells White House staff no more personnel changes coming MORE leaves a gaping hole in his administration and deprives President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE of one of his most trusted aides. 

Hicks — who was with the Trump campaign from its controversial launch in 2015 — was more than just the communications director at the White House. Trump’s allies describe her as a steadying force with an uncanny ability to understand and accommodate the unique demands of her boss.

Insiders say that no one will be able to entirely fill Hicks’s unique role within Trump World. However, the White House will be looking to fill the communications director position in her absence — a job that has seen frequent turnover in Trump’s 13 months in office.

The position was originally held by Mike Dubke, who never gained the president’s trust. Dubke was jettisoned amid broad dissatisfaction with the White House communications shop.

Former White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerWhite House race to replace Hope Hicks has two lead contenders Chris Wallace: Trump's Russia sanctions 'neither bold nor swift' In this administration, there have been many examples of courageous defiance MORE filled the role briefly, but resigned after the job was given to hedge fund manager Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciWhite House race to replace Hope Hicks has two lead contenders The Hill's 12:30 Report Scaramucci signs book deal on 'The Blue Collar President': report MORE.

Scaramucci’s chaotic 10-day tenure was marked by power struggles, leaks and obscene tirades, paving the way for Hicks, the White House’s jack-of-all trades, to fill the role.

Here are five people being discussed to replace Hicks, based on interviews with operatives who are privy to internal discussions.

Mercedes Schlapp

Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications, is the front-runner to replace Hicks, insiders say.

The Cuban-American is a veteran of former President George W. Bush’s campaigns and a former Fox News contributor. 

She is married to Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union who spearheads the annual gathering of grass-roots activists, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 

Trump received a hero’s welcome at CPAC last week, with thousands packing the rafters to cheer his 75-minute long campaign-style speech.

Matt Schlapp said Thursday on MSNBC that his wife would likely take the job if it’s offered to her.

“She's going to be very open to anything the president wants her to do,” Schlapp said. 

While Mercedes Schlapp appears to have the inside track for the job, several operatives with close ties to the White House stressed that she was not a lock.

They said she is somewhat unknown to the president at this point and that the two don’t talk much. And they argued that she might not be in line with the president on immigration, one of his key issues. There are also questions about whether Schlapp would have the full support of the White House communications team. 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders 

Sanders has been press secretary since July.

Dealing with an often-hostile press corps on a daily basis in the televised briefing is an exhausting responsibility, and Sanders could be pining for a more behind-the-scenes role. 

If so, the communications director job would be a solid fit. But it would also put the White House in the position of needing to find a new press secretary — a trickier role to fill.

Sanders has been criticized by the media for her tight-lipped briefings, but Republicans think she’s handled the job expertly, allowing the president’s tweets and open meetings to speak for themselves. Unlike her predecessor, Sanders rarely makes news or becomes a story in her own right.

It would be orders of magnitude more difficult for the White House to find a capable replacement, although State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert could be an option. 

Jason Miller

During the transition, the White House had tapped Miller, a top aide on the Trump campaign, to be communications director.

But Miller ultimately backed out, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. It was later revealed that he fathered a child out of wedlock with a fellow campaign staffer.

Trump has a soft spot for Miller, referring to him affectionately as “my Jas.” During the campaign, Miller would give pre-dawn briefings to the president about the media and communications strategy for the day. 

“If Jason wants in the White House, I think the president would be thrilled to have him back,” one source said. “There’s no one who can fill Hope’s roll, but Jason might be the closest you can get.”

Still, Miller may prefer to stay in the private sector, as it’s doubtful the White House would match the money he is making as a managing director at the political consulting firm Teneo and as a contributor for CNN. 

Bryan Lanza

Lanza is another veteran of the campaign, where he served as deputy communications director before becoming the communications director for the Trump transition team.

Lanza is a skillful advocate for the president and is experienced at defending him in the press.

But like Miller, it could be difficult to peel him away from the private sector. Lanza is a managing director for the public strategy firm Mercury and a CNN contributor.

Tony Sayegh 

Sayegh, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, has been mentioned as a dark horse candidate. 

A veteran of scores of GOP campaigns and a Fox News contributor, Sayegh has the necessary media experience. 

But Sayegh has been splitting his time between Washington and New York, where he lives with his family. Entering the White House would be a full-time commitment.