Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director, Republican National Committee: Power List 2016

2016 rank: 15

In the early months of 2016, Sean Spicer got all he bargained for and more as he saw his party endure a contentious presidential primary, ending with the unexpected presumptive nomination of businessman Donald Trump.

Trump’s rise to the top of Republican politics left a graveyard of more conventional bids in its wake. It dispatched the more establishment-friendly campaigns of rivals from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ohio Governor John Kasich, and left the party struggling to mend fences.

Yet no matter if Trump wins the general election or not, Spicer has established himself as a brand to be reckoned with in campaign politics. He deserves credit for modernizing the GOP’s comms structure, catching it up to the Democrats’ in terms of data and digital media, and the Rhode Island native also shines on cable TV. It’s why some insiders had pegged Spicer as the RNC’s next chairman. (He says he’s not running.)

Spicer’s current role caps several impressive ones in Republican politics, such as assistant U.S. trade representative for media and communications director for the House Republican Conference, as well as a stint as a partner at Endeavour Global Strategies.

This story was updated on July 5 to correct that Spicer is a native of Rhode Island, not Boston.

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