Priebus wins RNC chairmanship in seventh round
On the seventh round of voting, the Republican National Committee (RNC) selected Reince Priebus as its next chairman. Michael Steele dropped out after the fourth ballot, endorsing Maria Cino. Ann Wagner withdrew after the sixth round. The final count was 97 for Priebus, 43 for Saul Anuzis and 28 for Cino, whose endorsements by Speaker John Boehner and Steele in the end were insufficient to lift her to victory.
What happened and why? Essentially the "anybody but Steele and Priebus" candidates failed to sort out among themselves a single standard-bearer. Accordingly, Priebus built momentum as Steele dropped out (gaining 9 votes in the next round) and again after Wagner departed (gaining 17 to put him over the top), while the anit-Priebus votes splintered among three and then two contenders.
There are several takeaways. First, the RNC race is an insiders' game. Endorsements and debates count for relatively little. Second, Priebus, like any of the other candidates, will be a vast improvement over Steele. He seems to genuinely grasp that his job is not to go on every cable TV show, but to fund raise and get the RNC's fiscal house in order. He is unlikely to repeat the pattern of repeated gaffes that helped sink Steele.
And, finally, we should keep this in perspective. The party functions once exclusive held by the RNC have, out of necessity, been farmed out. Third-party groups now raise huge amounts of cash. The Republican Governers' Association raises cash, devises ad campaigns and, with a new policy post, will help in that arena as well. The Republican Senate and House campaign committees have polished their recruiting skills. The RNC shouldn't be dysfunctional and shouldn't shed money, but it no longer is the only game in town. Steele saw to that.
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