Mr. Priebus edged incumbent RNC Chairman Michael Steele in the first round of voting by the 168 members of the party’s central organ, 45-44, though both fell far short of the 85 votes needed to be elected. None of the other candidates — Maria Cino, a former Bush administration official who ran the party’s 2008 convention; former Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis; and Ann Wagner, former ambassador to Luxembourg and a former head of the Missouri Republican Party — had more than 32 votes.
Mr. Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the first black to head the Republican Party, is seeking a second two-year term as RNC head. But his rivals say the RNC has suffered financially and organizationally since he took over in January 2009.
The vote is the climax of the RNC’s annual three-day winter meeting, being held this year at the National Harbor resort just outside Washington D.C.