NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus retained a lead in the second round of voting as Republican National Committee members select a new chairman.
As the second ballot was announced, Priebus had 52 votes.
Needing 85 votes among the 168 members to win, no one yet has enough to win the race.
Trailing Priebus in the second round was Chairman Michael Steele with 37 votes, former RNC official Maria Cino with 30 votes, former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner with 27 votes and Michigan Committeeman Saul Anuzis with 22 votes.
In the first round, Priebus took 45 votes, Steele had 44 votes, Cino had 32 votes, Anuzis had 24 votes, and Wagner had 23 votes.
Several more ballots are expected before someone reaches the 85-vote threshold. Steele won the 2009 race after six rounds, defeating a five-candidate field that included Anuzis and then-Chairman Mike Duncan.
All eyes are now on Steele to see if his support begins to dwindle. In 2009, Duncan dropped out after three rounds after watching his vote total dwindle from 52 to 44. He had led after the first round and was tied with Steele after the second round.
The sense here is that if Steele did not finish in first place after the first ballot, he would have a difficult chance of winning. Still, much of the talk among members before this vote centered on whether Steele would leave the race when it became apparent he could not win.
“From people I’ve talked to, it’s my impression that he’s very determined,” New Hampshire Committeeman Wayne MacDonald told Roll Call shortly before the vote.
The first round of voting followed a nomination process in which one member endorsed and officially nominated each candidate. It also followed a morning session that featured debate over the RNC’s 2011 budget, which sets the committee’s plan to climb out of debt.