One outlet following the RNC Chair race closely has been the Hotline OnCall section of the NationalJournal. While the rest of us were watching bowl games or recovering from a night of revelry (or both) they were again updating their whip count on the race. With nearly half the voters having made a first-ballot commitment, none of the six candidates are over 1/3 of the way to the 85 votes they need to succeed.
Surprisingly, though, the leader at this point is Wisconsin state Chair Reince Priebus. Michael Steele lags behind in second place with 15 confirmed to 28 in the Priebus corner.
Further, while it’s no surprise that our national committeeman Louis Pope and national committeewoman Joyce Terhes are in Steele’s camp, the willingness of newly elected Chair Alex Mooney to shop around is encouraging. I happen to know some aspects of what Mooney is looking for in a Chair, but am not at liberty to divulge them. Michael Steele might not be the perfect fit for Alex, although in later rounds (and there will be later rounds if the last RNC election is any sort of guide) he could gravitate back to Michael if that option is still available.
It’s also worthy to note that the last incumbent RNC Chair also made a bid for re-election, but Mike Duncan lost his race on the heels of a 2008 campaign that saw a Democratic expansion of influence in Congress and capture of the White House. Obviously Michael Steele had a better election on his watch, but there have been complaints that the GOP left a few races on the table – particularly Senate races in Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware where ‘establishment’ GOP candidates lost in the primary and TEA Party insurgents faltered in the general election. (The GOP kept the Alaska seat as Senator Lisa Murkowski maintained her party affiliation while winning a write-in campaign.)
Yet the chief complaint against Steele is financial, with opponents pointing out that the party will need a huge infusion of cash to compete for the White House in 2012. President Obama may run the first billion-dollar campaign (not to mention the free publicity of a fawning press) so in order to compete fundraising needs to be key.
Tomorrow will feature a debate between the six announced candidates, with streaming available here. The election will be held on January 15, with the winner possibly becoming the GOP’s 65th Chairman.