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168 RNC Members Have Power ... for a Week

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus (left), one of four people challenging RNC Chairman Michael Steele (right), debates his rivals at a panel in D.C. last week.

Should Wagner or Cino win, Larimer and her opponent, Florida Committeewoman and RNC Secretary Sharon Day, would be excluded from the race for co-chairman. If that happens, Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere Jr. has announced he would run for co-chairman, a spot that he will only be considered for if one of the women are victorious for the top spot.

Gender rules have been altering the committee for decades. Priscilla Rakestraw, the longest-serving member of the RNC, said she became a member in 1975 when the Delaware delegation was filled entirely by men and they realized they needed a woman to satisfy the rules. She became the youngest member of the RNC at the time.

Now, Rakestraw supports Cino for the chairmanship. She said she’s “such a fan of Jan Larimer” but hopes that if Cino wins, Larimer could find another role in the RNC. In 2009, Rakestraw helped with Duncan’s campaign and then voted for Anuzis after Duncan dropped out. Her loyalties were so deep that she refused to vote in the final round after Anuzis dropped out after getting only 20 votes on the fifth ballot.

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