Former RNC Chair Mike Duncan says Steele will be 'out of the race' early

01/03/2011 07:05 PM

Michael Steele, who is seeking a second term as Republican National Committee chairman, is likely to be eliminated early in the voting, said former RNC chairman R. Michael Duncan.

R. Michael Duncan, Kentucky's national GOP committeeman and former RNC chairman

“I think probably Chairman Steele is out of the race,” Duncan said. “I think there have been so many people who have announced — particularly from his core group of supporters— that they won’t support him again, that he probably falls by the wayside after the first or second ballot.”

Duncan, the Inez banker who served as RNC chairman from 2007 to 2009, made the comments on Monday’s edition of Pure Politics. The interview was taped Dec. 28 while there were still six candidates vying for the chairmanship. One contender, Gentry Collins, dropped out of the race Sunday. The remaining five contenders appeared at a debate Monday.

Duncan said in the interview he hasn’t decided which candidate he’ll back when the 168 voting members elect the next chairman at the Republican Party’s winter meetings, which begin Jan. 12. To win the chairmanship, a candidate needs to get 85 votes.

But he spoke highly of the two women candidates: Maria Cino, a the chairman of the GOP’s 2008 convention in Minneapolis and former fundraiser for President George W. Bush, and Ann Wagner — another fundraiser for Bush and the former Missouri Republican Party chairman.

Duncan also said he had a meeting with Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin Republican Party chairman, on Dec. 28 at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport. And he planned to sit down with Saul Anuzis, the former Michigan GOP chairman, again before the winter meetings. Anuzis ran for the RNC chairmanship in 2009 when Duncan was seeking a second term. That was the election Steele won.

This time, Duncan said fundraising is key with the RNC needing to raise “between $350 (million) and $400 million” in the 2012 election cycle. And he criticized the financial conditions and operations during Steele’s tenure.

Duncan considered making a bid to get back the RNC chairmanship but announced on Dec. 17 that he wouldn’t run for the post. Duncan is chairman of American Crossroads, the conservative 527 group, that raised about $27 million to help Republican candidates in the 2010 election cycle.

Pure Politics will air the interview segment with Duncan about American Crossroads and campaign finance later this week.

- Ryan Alessi


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