Shortly after settling a seven ballot chairman election - that ousted the incumbent, Michael Steele - a divided Republican National Committee came together by choosing a consensus candidate for its new treasurer. That’s how an operative working on behalf of the new treasurer, the District of Columbia’s National Committeeman Tony Parker, framed the race for me a few hours before, as the RNC was entering its second ballot for chair. And this admittedly not disinterested narrative seems to have been borne out by the RNC’s vote.
Wisely, none of the candidates, despite their positioning, publicly announced their choice for chair as of National Journal’s Hotline on Call’s final whip count, but RNC members were not unaware of where the treasurer candidates’ loyalties lied.
The incumbent treasurer, Randy Pullen of Arizona, was viewed as the anti-Steele candidate and had been an outspoken critic of the outsted chairman for months. He issued a memo to committee members in July accusing Steele of covering up mismanagement of RNC finances, adding another chink in Steele’s armor. Potentially undermining his criticism of Steele’s spending habits, Pullen is weighted down with some “scandal” baggage of his own. Pullen’s history of clashes with other figures in his home state of Arizona’s GOP could be seen as a detriment for a committee that wanted to come back together. Once Pullen no longer had Michael Steele to kick around any longer, continuing his tenure as treasurer may have no longer seemed crucial to checking Steele’s power. That baggage seems to have proven too heavy for RNC members to be in a mood continue to bear
Appointed by as California GOP chairman by fmr. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Nehring had a base among Steele stalwarts. Last April, Nehring cast a public vote confidence in Steele by declaring in a Politico op-ed that the “RNC is getting the job done.”
The DCGOP’s Parker positioned himself as the candidate who could work rebuild the RNC’s infrastructure no matter who was elected in the chairman’s race. He seems to have pulled this off, even though his fellow DC RNC members were publicly pledged to re-electing Steele.
When the first ballot result was announced, it was clear that Parker was strong and that Pullen’s support had shrank.
After the first ballot, Treasurer Pullen took to the podium, withdrew and threw his support to Parker. It’s likely that Parker would have similarly and seen Nehring supporters shift his way en masse, had the Californian dropped out instead.
On the second ballot, Parker ran away with it:
The nominating speeches clearly showed that Parker enjoyed a regional base of support. The other candidates’ nominators and seconders were drawn from state parties nearby.
I had heard that Parker enjoyed support from the entire northeast having served as that region’s rep on the RNC’s executive committee. (He also seemed to have some support among fellow “blue state” RNC reps.) That bore out as the famously prickly fmr. New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush White House Chief of Staff John Sununu urged Parker’s election by reminding the committee that when urgent financial issues need to be met in a timely manner, “he’s only a metro ride away.” Surprisingly, considering the GOP’s anti-Washington mood these days, that did not seem to hurt Parker.
Parker’s other seconders hailed from Maryland, Delaware and the District. (In an exception, Maryland’s newly installed firebrand GOP Chair, Alex Mooney, who lost his state senate seat in a banner GOP year, even in Western Maryland, was among Nehring’s seconders.)
So, after last week’s winter Republican National Committee meeting, while former Prince George’s Co. GOP chief may be out as RNC chairman, the Washington area maintains a local figure in a top spot on the RNC, with DC’s Tony Parker as the body’s new treasurer.