Michael Steele Bows Out; Reince Priebus Holds Lead In RNC Chairman Election
UPDATE 2:01 p.m.: Ann Wagner dropped out of the race for RNC Chairman shortly before the seventh round of voting. Wagner said she wanted the RNC to "heal and unify" and to "block Obama in 2012."
UPDATE 1:49 p.m.: Reince Piebus received 80 votes in the sixth round of voting for RNC Chairman, still five votes shy of the 85 needed to win. Saul Anuzis received 37 votes, Maria Cino got 34 and 17 were for Ann Wagner.
UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: Reince Priebus still leads after five rounds of voting with 67 votes. In the same round of voting, Maria Cino received 40 votes, Saul Anuzis received 32 votes, Ann Wagner got 28 and one vote was for a candidate not properly nominated.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele dropped out before the fifth round of voting in his bid to be re-elected as chairman for two more years.
"Two years, we had a good time, but it's very clear the party wants to do something different and a little better," Steele said.
Steele asked the slightly more than two dozen voters who were supporting him to back Maria Cino.
When he boasted about Republican dominance in last November's midterm elections, the crowd offered him a standing ovation.
He ended his resignation speech by saying, "Now, I exit stage right," drawing respectful cheers from the crowd.
Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus continues to a hold the lead in the election happening right now to decide who will lead the Republican Party into the 2012 presidential election. In one round of voting, a candidate must receive 85 votes to win.
Priebus leads through four rounds of voting.
RNC Michigan committeeman Saul Anuzis and former RNC official Maria Cino and Ann Wagner are also running against Steele. Cino was endorsed by House Speaker John Boehner.
Despite major victories for Republicans in the 2010 midterm election, Steele has faced much criticism from his own party during his two-year run as chairman, which was marked by numerous political gaffes and controversies. Among his lowpoints, Steele:
- Picked public, losing fight with powerful right-wing radio host.
- Covered for employees who used company credit cards to pay for entertainment at lesbian themed bondage club.
- Drove organization into multi-million dollar debt.
Before today's vote, many influential Republicans had called for Steele's resignation.
Right before the vote, Steele made his final pitch to remain the GOP leader.
“I want to thank you so much — so much — for the chance to serve at a time when our party was changing, struggling to grow, regain its footing, find its voice, reconnect with people and to stand proud again,” Steele told the crowd. “The efforts of our party, a party once tagged as an endangered species, speaks for itself.”
“We cannot be the party of fiscal responsibility, we cannot be a shining example for the country, we cannot lead, if we are operating in deficit,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer.