Donald Trump’s campaign manager seized the spotlight from his GOP front-runner boss Tuesday when he was charged with misdemeanor battery for an alleged altercation with a female reporter three weeks ago.
The incident involving Corey Lewandowski, who will apparently remain on Trump’s team amid the controversy, has significantly raised the profile of the operative who’s directing a presidential campaign that encourages Trump to go full tilt.
The crew-cut wearing, 41-year-old — who has spent much of his professional life challenging the Republican Party establishment — is exactly the type of person Trump values, said Ryan Williams, a political strategist who has known Lewandowski since 2009 when they both worked in New Hampshire.
Lewandowski, he said, “mirrors Trump’s persona.”
“Corey and Donald Trump are cut from the same cloth,” Williams added. “Both like to wear suits. Both like to exercise power. Both are quick talkers.”
Lewandowski, however, had a vastly different upbringing from Trump who grew up wealthy and was afforded infinite opportunities for a good education and successful business. Lewandowski was born in Lowell, a blue-collar town in eastern Massachusetts, where he also went to college.
Lewandowski has also lost at least two political races. Early in his career, while still a political science student at UMass-Lowell, he ran for state representative, according to the Lowell Sun newspaper. Nearly 20 years later in 2012, he also ran for treasurer in Windham, a small town in New Hampshire less than 30 minutes from Lowell — but lost again.
In between those two races, he headed to Washington, D.C., for graduate school at American University in the late 1990s. While there, he started working for Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney, followed by a brief stint at the Republican National Committee.
Lewandowski returned home to the Northeast and ran his first anti-establishment campaign when he worked to re-elect New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith in 2001, who had left the GOP to run for president in 1999, but came back into the fold to run for his senate seat.
Smith lost, but Lewandowski stayed in New Hampshire, settling in Windham and working for the New England Seafood Producers Association and then for Schwartz MSL, a public relations firm.
He then returned to politics in 2008 and went to work for Americans for Prosperity, a policy-oriented organization funded by billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch, in the Granite State, according to his LinkedIn page. The organization supported some Republicans but also ran campaigns against others that didn’t adhere to their priorities.
After nearly six years at Americans for Prosperity, Lewandowski started working for Trump, gearing up for the real estate tycoon’s presidential campaign. He reportedly accepted the job after being wooed at Trump Towers in New York without first consulting his wife.
Related: Trump Stands by Lewandowski
In Trump, Lewandowski found a candidate he could partner with — and run an unbridled campaign. He told The Washington Post last summer that he likens the billionaire businessman to prized race horse American Pharoah.
“I see Mr. Trump as American Pharoah, the horse that just ran and won the Triple Crown. When you have a horse like that, American Pharoah, you have to let him do his thing. Let him run his race,” Lewandowski said. “And anybody who thinks that they are going to be able to dictate what Mr. Trump should or shouldn’t do doesn’t understand the unparalleled success that he has had across his life.”
Lewandowski is accused of getting into an altercation with then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields during a campaign rally March 8. Lewandowski had said he never touched Fields, although police released video showing he made contact with her while she attempted to ask Trump a question.
The maverick Republican mogul has continued to support Lewandowski — and tweeted Tuesday that he’s a “very decent man.”
“I think it’s a very very sad day in this country when a man could be destroyed over something like that,” Trump later told reporters.