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Only one woman has ever chaired the Republican National Committee, but 2011 may be the year that a second joins the ranks of RNC leaders.
Former RNC Co-chairwoman Ann Wagner filed paperwork for a 527 affiliated with her bid to become RNC chairwoman.
Wagner, a former chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party, headed up Rep. Roy Blunt’s successful effort to replace retiring Missouri Sen. Kit Bond (R) during the 2010 cycle. She served as ambassador to Luxembourg until July 2009.
John Ryder, the RNC committeeman from Tennessee and chairman of the RNC’s redistricting committee, said he encouraged Wagner to get into the race. Calling himself “an Ann fan,” Ryder said he has been impressed with Wagner’s abilities since they first began serving together at the RNC in 1996.
“She’s highly disciplined,” he said. “If the finance chairman gives her a list of names in the morning and says call these people, she will call them all by the end of the day. She’s that kind of focused.”
In Missouri, Wagner has also been mentioned as a potential candidate against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) or Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in 2012.
Another woman looking to lead the RNC is Maria Cino, a Transportation Department appointee under President George W. Bush. Cino has worked at the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee, and she was CEO of the 2008 Republican National Convention.
“She’s giving consideration to getting into the race,” a source close to Cino told Roll Call. “She’s leaning toward it. She’s beginning to make calls to members.”
Morton Blackwell, an RNC committeeman from Virginia, told Roll Call that Cino has been calling members asking for their support. Blackwell has already announced that he will support Michigan Committeeman Saul Anuzis, but most members have yet to publicly state their support.
“At the end of the day, the 168 members are going to decide who they’d like to lead the party,” the source close to Cino said. “She’s trying to be sensitive to that fact and go about it the right way.”
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An earlier version of the story stated that no woman had ever chaired the RNC. Mary Louise Smith was the first woman to lead the committee.