Reince Priebus opens wider lead over Michael Steele in pledged RNC delegates
According to The Hotline’s latest whip count, Michael Steele continues to fall behind former Wisconsin GOP chair Reince Priebus in his bid to maintain his position as chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
As of Monday, Priebus was publicly supported by 22 voting RNC delegates, compared to only 12 behind Steele. Former Michigan Republican chair Saul Anuzis is breathing right down Steele’s neck with 11 pledges delegates, and former RNC co-chair Ann Wagner is in the mix with 10 supporters.
With the Jan. 14 vote for the next chairman fast approaching, over one-third of the RNC delegates have publicly stated their voting intentions. As I noted two weeks ago, Steele’s deficit in supporters is likely closer to the sum of all the challengers’ delegates rather than just Priebus’ alone, as those RNC members have already decided to back someone besides the incumbent Steele and will be likely to switch their allegiance to one of the other challengers once their initial favorite drops from the ballot.
The Hotline also reported that Priebus has managed to pull away a key Steele ally for his corner:
On Sunday, California national committee member Shawn Steel made public his decision to back Wisconsin Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus. The Californian had been a key member of Steele’s kitchen cabinet and one of the incumbent chairman’s top defenders.
The defection, rumored for a week, is seen as a major blow to Steele’s dwindling re-election hopes.