Republican Party officials gave their votes, after several rounds of balloting, to Reince Priebus to replace embattled chairman Michael Steele as the party and pro-life movement prepare for the 2012 presidential election.
Priebus, the Wisconsin Republican Party chairman, received the support of conservative members of the GOP, including pro-life attorney Jim Bopp, the legal counsel for the National Right to Life Committee.
“I believe, absolutely, that life begins at the moments of conception,” Priebus declared during his pre-vote conversation with the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political organization. “It’s a core principle of mine.”
“If I was to be elected chairman of the RNC that would be something that I would have an even bigger obligation to uphold the position I have on abortion. And I think it would be a huge disappointment to God if I didn’t,” Priebuspledged, frequently evoking his faith in his answers in an SBA List interview.
Steele dropped out of the RNC chairman race prior to the 5th round with the statement, “I hope you all appreciate the legacy we leave. At this time I will step aside so others may lead.” From the podium he endorsed long-time Republican activist Maria Cino, who some pro-life advocates said has not fully explained her time working with a pro-abortion group.
As is typical, members of the Republican National Committee are going through multiple ballots to pare down the list of five candidates seeking the chairmanship, including Steele, Priebus, former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis, long-time Republican activist Maria Cino, and former RNC co-chairman Ann Wagner.
After the first round of balloting, with the winner needing 85 votes to become the chairman, Priebus led with 45 votes to 44 for Steele and 32 for Cino while Anuzis had 24 and Wagner had 23 votes.
The second round tally has Priebus gaining seven votes to move up to 52, Steele losing seven to drop to 37, Cino down two votes to 30, Wagner gaining four votes to climb to 27 and Anuzis losing two votes to drop to 22. The third round saw Priebus up two to 54, Steele drown four to 33, Wagner gaining five to jump to 32, Cino dropping two more to 28 and Anuzis dropping one to 21. In the fourth round, Priebus upped his lead to 58, Steele dropped to 28 as did Wagner, Cino bumped up to 29 while Anuzis gained to 24 as Steele supporters began moving in every direction.
After dropping out of the race, Steele’s votes split to the various candidates as expected, with Priebus getting 67, Cino 40, Anuzis 32 and Wagner 28 — making Steele’s endorsement a non-factor for most RNC voters.
Priebus pushed his total to 80 in the 6th round after Anuzis and Wagner declined to drop out to endorse each other. Wagner eventually dropped out before the seventhround but declined to endorse another candidate and Priebus was elected on the seventh and final round.
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“It is critical that the next RNC chairman not only be pro-life, but be prepared to use his or her position to advance pro-life values,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews.com before the vote.
Dannenfelser called Priebus after his victory and told him she looked forward to working with him to advance the campaigns of pro-life candidates in 2012.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, Cino come under fire for her past involvement in and donations to the pro-abortion Republican group WISH List, which she attempted to explain away in an interview with the Susan B. Anthony List, where she also declared herself to be a strongly pro-life Catholic.
The head of one pro-life group, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, wrote weeks ago that Steele should be replaced — citing poor fundraising and preparation for defeating Obama and Steele’s questionable remarks on abortion that go against his own stated pro-life positions.