LAS VEGAS – Reince Priebus said Friday he will seek re-election to chairman of the Republican National Committee, and said he has enough commitments from the 168 members to win.
"I am leaving this afternoon for vacation to spend some much needed time with my family over the next week," he emailed the members. "When I return the week after Thanksgiving, I intend to make an official announcement that I am running to continue on as your chairman, but I wanted to let you all know first."
Mr. Priebus claimed even more than 112 member commitments that The Washington Times was led to believe he would claim.
"I am humbled by the over 130 RNC Members who I have talked to who have pledged their support and public endorsement for me to continue on as chairman so we can finish the job that we started and continue to grow our party," he said.
He said all 130 agreed to have their names published before the January chairman's elections – insurance that those who said yes meant yes and hadn't also made commitments to another candidate.
Since only 85 votes are need for election to the chairmanship, it is unlikely that any challenges will surface among sitting committee members.
Mr. Priebus, who was Wisconsin GOP chairman, had been counsel to his RNC predecessor, Michael S. Steele, but broke with him over issues of questionable spending and mismanagement at the committee.
He still will seek his second two-year term at the national party's annual meeting in January.
"The RNC has come a long way since the chairman's election in January 2011," he wrote in the email today. "When we entered the building [RNC headquarters on Capitol Hill] less than two years ago ... the RNC was over $22 million in debt, with almost no cash on hand."
Mr. Priebus recalled the painful situation at the party when he took over, saying that "much of our donor base lost confidence and stopped contributing to the RNC."
Major donors had begun directing their contributions to super PACs and other organizations incorporated under provisions of the tax, and to the GOP's Senate and House campaign committees – anywhere but to the RNC, where they felt the money was being misspent by Mr. Steele's operation. They also said Mr. Steele was loath to get on the phone and ask donors for money – the prime job of a national chairman.
Major donors now tell The Washington Times that Mr. Priebus has shown a totally different style – practicing fiscal integrity and a personal enjoyment in asking big donors for big money.
Mr. Priebus has had some bumps. Many members complained when he initially acquiesced to the Romney campaign's attempt, led by GOP attorney and long-time operative Ben Ginsberg, to rewrite the rules for electing delegates to the next presidential nominating convention.
The Romney campaign's surrogates got Mr. Priebus to agree to a new rule that would in effect allow the 2016 candidate who had accumulated enough votes to win the nomination at the national convention to choose his delegates to the convention by disqualifying delegates he didn't like, even if those delegates had been selected by states in primaries and caucuses.
Mr. Priebus later reversed himself and had the rule changed back to its original form.
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Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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