Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele makes his remarks during a Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Oxon Hill, Md., Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Incredibly white Wisconsin man is your new RNC chair

We said goodbye to Michael Steele. Now meet the improbably named Reince Priebus

Alex Pareene
January 14, 2011 11:46PM (UTC)

Follow the RNC leadership election here. For coverage of the earlier events and the nominating speeches, check out Hotline's liveblog. Remember: The winner needs 85+ votes to become the next chair.

5:20 It's finally done! Preibus 97! Anuzis 43, Cino 28. Your new RNC chairman is the exotically named Wisconsinite Reince Priebus. He will usher in the Haley Barbour presidency.


5:00 Wagner's out! No endorsement! If five of her voters go to Priebus, this will end. So I predict that they'll all go to Cino.

4:50 New vote totals, everyone. Preibus 80, Anuzis 37, Cino 34, Wagner 17. No write-in. Nice work, Steele, with the endorsement.

4:35 C-Span caller: "I heard American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Island. What are those referring to?" When told that those are U.S. territories, she asks, "Are those part of states?" C-Span anchor dude cuts her off and goes to the start of vote No. 10,000.


4:15 "The #rnc chair race is now officially a proxy fight between Haley Barbour and John Boehner," Maggie Haberman writes. Boehner made calls for Cino, Barbour has been campaigning for Priebus. The "grassroots" really don't care for Cino -- they call her an "Obamacare lobbyist" due to her work with Pfizer -- but some people see Priebus as "Steele 2.0." Fifth vote: Priebus 67, Cino 40, Anuzis 32, Wagner 28, one write-in for "a candidate not properly nominated." Who keeps doing this? Who are they writing in? What if "a candidate not properly nominated" wins? Priebus is going to win this through attrition, but it's going to take forever. Steele, predictably, only convinced 11 people to vote for Cino.

4:05 Here's a video I made to say goodbye to Michael Steele:

4:00 Steele left, Snagglepuss-style, after saying "exit, stage right." Then he went stage left. ("Stage right" is the audience's left, which is proof that Steele was a RINO all along.) They're now holding the millionth vote. Another urgent correction: Upon review of the video, Steele clearly exited stage right, and certain unnamed other political writers apparently don't know what stage right is. Steele gets the last laugh!


3:55 OK, Michael Steele told people he was staying in, and now he is quitting. Now we'll never know "what up." "Despite the difficultues, we won." He gets a standing ovation, which is hilarious. Goodnight, sweet prince of urban-suburban hip-hop settings. He throws his support behind Maria Cino. Anuzis still hasn't quit.

3:50 STEELE IS STAYING IN. HE IS NOT QUITTING. He is the best. I hope he never goes away. This is going to go on literally Joe Biden forever.


3:45 Priebus 58, Cino 29, Steele 28, Wagner 28, Anuzis 24, and one write-in for someone unnamed. 28 + 28 is 56, by the way.

3:40 Looks like Steele's out and has thrown his support to Wagner.

3:40 One Twitterer says Steele has dropped out, but another Twitterer says Steele asked for Wagner's votes. (Unrelated but oh my god: You have to check out this insane Twitter argument between David Frum and Andrew Brietbart about cocktail parties. It starts here.)


3:20 Uh-oh, now Steele and Ann Wagner are in a smoky backroom together. RNC rules stipulate that the chair and co-chair be of opposite sexes, and there's never been a female chair of the RNC. Fourth round! No one has droppd out. Ugh.

3:05: OK, maybe Steele is going to drop out, and throw his votes to the fading Anuzis? Third vote: Priebus 54, Steele 33, Wagner 32, Cino 28, Anuzis 21. Anuzis loses a vote, but lots of people seem to think he'll be getting Steele's supporters shortly. Former ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner is suddenly beating Maria Cino, whose early support was apparently not that solid. Someone please drop out, jesus.

2:45 Anuzis and Steele are chatting! Steele might still think he can win this, but if he can't, he can keep the election going for a long time and eventually try to give it to someone who isn't Priebus. (Apparently Priebus once clerked for the NAACP.) Exciting news: There will now only be 10 minutes between rounds of voting instead of an interminable 20. Third round time.


2:30 Second vote totals: Priebus 52, Steele 37, Cino 30, Wagner 27, Anuzis 22. Saul's not going to win this. Cino loses two votes, and Priebus picks up seven, which doesn't really confirm or debunk the conspiracy theory. I'm still surprised that Steele's doing so well. Also,someone threw up. Urgent correction: No one threw up! I apologize for misreading a Tweet that was actually about someone giving everyone the finger. I think.

2:20 The ballots for the second vote are being tallied. So exciting! Soon we'll learn if "The Priebus Maneuver" was real or fantasy. Where will Steele's first-round voters go? Probably not to Steele again.

2:00: While everyone else says Cino is the new candidate to watch, Dave Weigel reports that one committee member is convinced that Priebus intentionally had a poor showing on the first ballot in order to fake a "surge" on the second ballot. In addition to Boehner -- whose endorsement wasn't expected to mean all that much -- Cino has the backing of Dick Cheney and Ed Gillespie. No one's expected to drop out before the next vote.

1:45: The official results of the first vote are in. Reince Priebus 45, Michael Steele 44, Maria Cino 32, Saul Anuzis 24, Ann Wagner 23. That is actually a surprisingly weak showing for Priebus and a surprisingly strong showing for Steele. Cino's strong showing was because of support from John Boehner, and her people expect her to place second on the next ballot. She has the momentum now. More secret voting! Check back soon!

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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