Despite Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy to promote Maria Cino for chairman of the Republican National Committee, Healy has endorsed Saul Anuzis for chairman.
Healy announced his pick Thursday, two days after speaking with Boehner. Healy told Roll Call that he could have supported Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party; Cino, a former RNC official; or Ann Wagner, the former chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party.
“I think all three of them are really good,” he said. “I think when you get in a situation like this, I think it’s a matter of who you’ve worked with more than others.”
Boehner said in 2010 that he wouldn’t publicly endorse a candidate, but he and his chief of staff, Barry Jackson, have been friends with Cino for a long time. Cino ran the National Republican Congressional Committee when Republicans took control of the House in 1994 and in the cycle following. She’s a dark horse in the race with just eight public supporters among the 168 members of the RNC. Roll Call reported Tuesday that Boehner had made the call on Cino’s behalf, with a spokesman for the Speaker refusing to comment. Healy wouldn’t disclose the specific details of their conversation.
On Thursday, Anuzis also announced the endorsements of Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd and South Carolina National Committeeman Glenn McCall. That brings Anuzis to 14 public endorsements, according to the Hotline’s RNC whip count. He’s in third place in the count, behind Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus and current Chairman Michael Steele. To win the chairmanship, a candidate must get 85 votes from the 168 RNC members.
Healy and Strawn originally endorsed former RNC political director Gentry Collins for the chairmanship, but he dropped out of the race Sunday. With their votes up for grabs, Boehner quietly phoned Healy. CNN reported that Boehner also phoned another RNC member to advocate for Cino.
Healy cited Anuzis’ work as the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and his personal and political skills as additional reasons for backing his candidacy.
“He is the kind of chairman we need, given the tasks we have on hand, which are eliminating debt, building a war chest and getting the sort of mechanical requirements of the committee carried out,” he said.
An outspoken Steele critic, Healy said he thought Priebus, who managed Steele’s race in 2009 and served as general counsel for the RNC, was too close to the current chairman to be successful in the job.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.