On the eve of the debate between the candidates for Republican National Chairman–all six of whom had confirmed they would be at the forum sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform–rumors were rampant that the field of contenders would drop to five.
Gentry Collins, former political director of the RNC, was reportedly set to abandon his bid for the party helm at the national committee’s winter meeting later this month. A top operative in Mitt Romney’s ’08 presidential bid, Collins had served as political director until he resigned last year with a blast at incumbent Chairman Michael Steele. Collins later joined four other candidates to challenge Steele, who is seeking a second two-year term as chairman.
Although many on the 187-member RNC gave Collins high marks for his political savvy and organizational acumen, this did not translate into support in the chairman’s contest. While agreeing with his criticism of Steele’s management style, several RNC members said he hurt himself by resigning and then quickly declaring against the chairman he had worked for since ’09. As of last week, a headcount by the publication “Hotline” showed Collins running last in the race, with only three committed votes.
Along with Steele, the other candidates in the race who will square off at the National Press Club are Wisconsin State Chairman Reince Priebus, Michigan National Committeeman Saul Anuzis, former RNC Co-Chairman Ann Wagner of Missouri, and former National Republican Congressional Committee operating head Maria Cino.