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Mr. Terpeluk abruptly resigned in mid-December without a formal announcement or explanation.

Mr. Steele did not respond to a question e-mailed and telephoned to his press aide as to whether he would replace Mr. Terpeluk before the Jan. 14 election or wait until afterward, to fill the post if Mr. Steele wins re-election.

If Mr. Steele is replaced, a new finance chairman is likely to be a top priority for the new RNC boss.

Steele Chief of Staff Gentry Collins, who quit earlier this year and publicly blasted Mr. Steele’s leadership, said the RNC’s major-donor base has withered with Mr. Steele at the helm.

“The choice of finance chairman is crucial any time, but especially with this unprecedented debt, and obviously I’ve given a lot of thought to who would be ideal for the role,” Mr. Collins, who is running to replace his former boss at the RNC’s helm, told The Washington Times.

Mr. Collins, 35, has considerable experience in top staff positions for Republican committees and candidates, but so far has accumulated the fewest public commitments from RNC members.

The new-media savvy Michigan RNC member Saul Anuzis is considered reliably conservative and popular with many members but lags league leader Reince Priebus when it comes to first-round committed votes for the chairmanship. Mr. Anuzis, 51, said he’s had his mind on other things than finance chairman.

“I’m currently planning on co-chairs with a team of regional co-

chairs as well,” he told The Washington Times. “It’s going to have to be a ‘team approach’ to make this work.”

“Besides, it’s too early to be talking to specific fundraisers,” Mr. Anuzis said, “That would be putting the cart before the horse.”

Mr. Priebus, 38, is the highly successful Wisconsin Republican chairman and was RNC general counsel and Steele chief adviser until he too resigned abruptly earlier this month. Mr. Priebus won’t divulge whom he is considering for the finance post but told The Washington Times that “naming a finance chairman and a top-notch chief of staff would be the very first of priorities.”

Asked how long it would take him to name both, he said, “Those activities would be immediate.”

Placing at this point just ahead of the last-place Mr. Collins, the normally taciturn Ms. Cino told The Washington Times that she would name more than one finance chairman — and do it fast.

“It is extremely important to name national finance co-chairs as quickly as possible, which is what I have proposed,” she said, adding that she has in mind “a few folks that have demonstrated a great abilities in the past.”

It is Mr. Priebus, however, who is unique among the candidates because he has not only the behind-the-scenes backing of powerful establishment Republicans such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour but also — and unexpectedly — the public endorsement of constitutional lawyer Jim Bopp.

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