What new strategies would the six candidates for RNC chairman unveil this time around? How will they pump life back into the GOP? More friendly jabs over the number of Facebook friends? We’ll never know.
On Wednesday, January 7, in an odd train of events, the candidates’ forum taking place at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C. was precipitously closed off to every non-member of the Republican National Committee. That meant no journalists, staffers, or party aides. The explanation? Quorum wasn’t reached. Fewer than 85 of the total 168 RNC reps were present.
Registered attendees initially gained entrance, but were asked to leave when the roll call revealed quorum’s absence. Once the room was emptied, members voted to make the debate private in order to "get more candid answers from the candidates," one GOP official said. Another added that it’s up to the "members’ discretion" whether or not to make the meeting public, if a majority is absent. Attendees were forewarned upon registration (at least this writer was) that such a scenario may happen.
Wednesday’s confab was unprecedented in its own right. RNC rules stipulate that an unscheduled "special meeting" can occur with the backing of 16 members from 16 states, a statute North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth successfully employed. Mr. Emineth received support from 21 other GOP officers in 18 different states, giving credence to Wednesday’s unexpected roundtable. A "special meeting" was needed, in his words, to bring "more exposure of the candidates, their values and how they intend to turn the party around."
This latest round of discussions was the second straight clandestine event held with all the contenders. On Tuesday, January 6, each one was probed separately for 30 minutes by the Conservative Steering Committee. The meeting lasted a total of seven hours, but no favorites emerged. The Conservative Steering Committee — headed by Indiana National Committeeman James Bopp Jr. — is a body within the RNC, consisting of 96 prominent conservative members. Mr. Bopp said it’s too soon for him or his committee to endorse a candidate.
The election of the next GOP chairman will take place at the end of January. Candidates include Mike Duncan, the current chairman; Michael Steele, former Maryland lieutenant governor; Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state; Chip Saltsman, Mike Huckabee’s campaign manager; Sal Anuzis, Michigan state chairman; and Katon Dawson, South Carolina state chairman.