Ryder Shares Behind the Scenes at RNC

John Ryder, our Midtown Republican Club speaker for February, details how the vote went down at the RNC for chairman. As one of Tennessee’s three delegates, his insights are interesting. We can ask him about it personally  Tuesday.



To: State Executive Committee
From: National Committeeman John Ryder
National Committeewoman Peggy Lambert
Re: Report on RNC Winter Meeting
Date: January 25, 2011

Last month, the Republican National Committee met at the Gaylord National Resort, at National Harbor, Maryland, which is right outside Washington, D.C. The focus of the meeting was the election of the Chairman of the RNC. As your representatives to the National Committee, the two of us, along with Chris Devaney, played an active role in the election.

As we discussed at our December SEC meeting, there were too many issues with Michael Steele, and we were unable to support his reelection. Five other candidates offered themselves: Reince Priebus, the General Counsel to the RNC; Ann Wagner, former state chairman in Missouri and former RNC Co-Chairman; Maria Cino, former deputy political director in the Bush White House and former Deputy Chairman of the RNC; Saul Anuzis, National Committeeman from Michigan and Gentry Collins, former Political Director of the RNC under Michael Steele.

A number of candidate forums were held, which some of you may have seen on C-Span or the internet. In addition, we each received calls from the candidates along with numerous e-mails and correspondence detailing their plans for the RNC. Of course, we also received anonymous e-mails attacking each of the candidates.

Prior to the meeting, Gentry Collins dropped out of the race, leaving the field to Steele, Priebus, Wagner, Anuzis and Cino.

All three of your representatives supported Ann Wagner. After reviewing the qualifications of all the candidates, we each came to the same conclusion. Ann was simply the best qualified to lead the RNC at this time; however, the fact that she is not a current member of the committee and that Priebus had a head start on her, put him in a strong position.

There are 168 members of the RNC, all of whom were present either in person or by proxy. It takes a majority to win and no one has to drop out—the candidates remain on the ballot until someone has a majority.

The first ballot had Priebus 45, Steele 44, Cino 32, Anuzis 24 and Wagner 23. Cino’s strength surprised everyone. The other candidates were where we thought they would be.
Everyone stayed in for the second ballot, which showed: Priebus 52, Steele 37, Cino 30, Wagner 27, and Anuzis 22. This is what was expected—Steele would lose votes as the ballots continued and the battle was among the other three to see who could challenge Priebus.

On the Third ballot, the vote was: Priebus 54, Steele 33, Wagner 32, Cino 28 and Anuzis 21. At this point we felt very good about Ann’s situation. We hoped that Steele would withdraw and that some of his voters would come our way; however, Steele stayed in and the Fourth ballot was: Priebus 58, Cino 29, Steele 28, Wagner 28 and Anuzis 4. This completely confused the issue by reshuffling the three challengers. Steele then withdrew and threw his support to Cino.

On the Fifth ballot the vote was: Priebus 67, Cino 40, Wagner 28 and Anuzis 32. So the Steele vote split between Cino, Anuzis and Priebus. We did not get any of those votes.

Ann did not want to give up, but the sixth ballot told the story: Priebus 80, Anuzis 37, Cino 34, and Wagner 17. By my reckoning, Ann’s votes went to Priebus, while some votes shifted from Cino to Anuzis. Ann then graciously withdrew and did not declare support for the remaining candidates; however, all her votes went to Priebus on the next ballot. The final votes were: Priebus 97, Anuzis 43, and Cino 28.

Although we supported Ann Wagner, all three of us believe the Reince Priebus will do a fine job as Chairman of the RNC. He is a hard worker and well organized. He began immediately by terminating the contracts of the Convention Liaison and her staff, which had been a source of some criticism. He also convened a meeting of former RNC finance chairs to begin the process of rebuilding our relationship with the major donors. We think he is off to a good start and look forward to working with him.

In addition to the election of Chairman, we also elected Sharon Day, National Committeewoman of Florida, as Co-Chairman; Tony Parker, National Committeeman of the District of Columbia, as Treasurer; and Demetra Demonte, National Committeewoman of Illinois, as Secretary.

It is an honor to represent our state on the RNC and a pleasure to work with such good colleagues as we have in Tennessee.

Peggy Lambert John Ryder
National Committeewoman National Committeeman

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