RNC chief Priebus re­tains sup­port de­spite elec­tion dis­as­ter

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

LAS VE­GAS | Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus re­tains a strong base of sup­port from top GOP of­fi­cials de­spite the party’s losses in the Nov. 6 elec­tion and the break­down of the Rom­ney cam­paign’s vaunted voter-turnout op­er­a­tion in key swing states on Elec­tion Day.

GOP gov­er­nors gath­ered here for their an­nual meet­ing had heaped praise on the for­mer Wis­con­sin GOP chair­man be­fore this year’s vote for his ef­forts to re­build the party’s mori­bund in­ter­nal ma­chin­ery since tak­ing over the RNC in Jan­uary 2011. Most of the GOP gov­er­nors, whose num­bers grew from 29 to 30 in the re­cent vote, said they were stick­ing with Mr. Priebus, who was not at­tend­ing.

So far, 42 of the state GOP chair­men and elected na­tional com­mit­tee mem­bers who make up the 168-mem­ber RNC say they will back the chair­man. The party’s top con­gres­sional lead­ers, in­clud­ing House Speaker John A. Boehner and Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, have also pri­vately con­veyed sup­port for Mr. Priebus to run for a sec­ond two-year term, The Wash­ing­ton Times has learned.

The sup­port comes de­spite the shock and re­crim­i­na­tions the party has ex­pe­ri­enced since Mr. Rom­ney’s loss to Pres­i­dent Obama on Nov. 6, and amid sharply de­clin­ing sup­port for the party in such key con­stituen­cies as women and His­pan­ics. The party also lost a net two seats in the Se­nate, de­spite many more Demo­cratic in­cum­bents be­ing on the bal­lot.

The chair­man of a ma­jor swing state that failed to go for Mr. Rom­ney on Nov. 6 said pri­vately he is un­sure about sup­port­ing Mr. Priebus and needs “to hear more about what Reince will do about ap­peal­ing to women, Lati­nos and on con­cen­trat­ing on eco­nom­ics, not so­cial is­sues.”

Mr. Priebus is said to be pre­par­ing a two-year plan and a four-year plan for broad­en­ing the party’s base among Lati­nos, Asians, blacks and women, and re­for­mu­lat­ing the GOP’s mes­sage with­out sac­ri­fic­ing its ba­sic prin­ci­ples on per­sonal free­dom and free mar­kets.

Louisiana GOP Chair­man Roger Villere sent a memo to fel­low RNC mem­bers crit­i­ciz­ing the party’s get-out-the-vote fail­ures Nov. 6 and fail­ure to at­tract more mi­nori­ties, women and young vot­ers. A few RNC mem­bers and some ac­tivists not on the na­tional com­mit­tee are urg­ing Mr. Villere to run against Mr. Priebus, but he said he re­mains be­hind the in­cum­bent.

“I def­i­nitely will sup­port Reince if he de­cides to run,” Mr. Villere said in a Nov. 14 email.

Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union Chair­man Al Cardenas, a for­mer Florida GOP chair­man who has been men­tioned as an­other pos­si­ble can­di­date for party chair­man, also gave Mr. Priebus a vote of con­fi­dence, say­ing in a phone in­ter­view that “Reince has done a good job in re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the RNC, and the Nov. 6 turnout prob­lems had noth­ing to do with him or the na­tional com­mit­tee.”

Many here say the blame for the dis­as­trous mal­func­tions in the GOP’s get-out-the-vote ef­forts on Elec­tion Day lay with the Rom­ney cam­paign and the con­sul­tants and ven­dors it hired. Go­ing into the elec­tion, sev­eral of the GOP’s top fundrais­ers told The Times that the Rom­ney cam­paign had com­pletely taken over the RNC’s ground-game plans and pro­grams for tar­get­ing vot­ers and get­ting them to the polls.

Mr. Priebus, by con­trast, is cred­ited by many with re­viv­ing the party’s fund­ing base and cul­ti­vat­ing donors alien­ated by the RNC lead­er­ship un­der pre­vi­ous party Chair­man Michael S. Steele.

Ten­nessee RNC mem­ber John Ry­der cred­ited Mr. Priebus with hav­ing “turned the RNC around and re­stored its abil­ity to be part of the Repub­li­can ef­fort. If we didn’t win ev­ery­thing this year, it was de­spite the best ef­forts of the RNC and Reince Priebus.”

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